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Full text of "Riviera to the Rhine : the European theater of operations"

RIVIERA 

TO THE 

RHINE 



UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II 

The European Theater of Operations 
RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 

by 

Jeffrey J- Clarke 
Robert Ross Smith 




CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY 
UNITED STATES ARMY 
WASHINGTON, D. C, 1993 



Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 



Clarke, Jeffrey J. 

Riviera to the Rhine / Jeffrey Johnstone Clarke, Robert Ross Smith. 

p. cm. — (United States Army in World War II) 
Includes bibliographical references and index. 

I. World War, 1939-1945 — Campaigns — Western. 2. United States. 
Army — History — World War, 1939-1945. I. Smith, Robert Ross. 

II. Title. III. Series. 
D756.C53 1991 

940.54'21— dc20 91-3180 

CIP 



First Printing— CMH Pub 7-10 



For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office 
Washington, D.C. 20402 



UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II 



Advisory Committee 

(As of 6 August 1990) 



Edward M. CofFman 
University of Wisconsin 

Martin Blumenson 
Washington, D.C. 

Brig. Gen. William M. Boice 
U.S. Army War College 

Brig. Gen. Gerald E. Galloway, Jr. 
U.S. Military Academy 

Herman M. Hattaway 
U.S. Military Academy 

James M. McPherson 
Princeton University 

Ernest R. May 
Harvard University 



David B. Miller, Esq. 
Scranton, Pa. 

Brig. Gen. John E. Miller 
U.S. Army Command and General 
Staff College 

Maj. Gen. James W. van Loben Sels 
U.S. Army Training and Doctrine 
Command 

William A. Walker 
Archivist of the Army 

Russell F. Weigley 
Temple University 



U.S. Army Center of Military History 
Brig. Gen. Harold W. Nelson, Chief of Military History 



Chief Historian 
Chief, Histories Division 
Editor in Chief 



Jeffrey J. Clarke 
Col. Robert H. Sholly 
John W. Elsberg 



111 



. . . to Those Who Served 



Foreword 



With the publication of Riviera to the Rhine, the Center of Military 
History completes its series of operational histories treating the activi- 
ties of the U.S. Army's combat forces during World War II. This 
volume examines the least known of the major units in the European 
theater, General Jacob L. Devers' 6th Army Group. Under General 
Devers' leadership, two armies, the U.S. Seventh Army under General 
Alexander M. Patch and the First French Army led by General Jean de 
Lattre de Tassigny, landing on the Mediterranean coast near Marseille 
in August 1944, cleared the enemy out of southern France and then 
turned east and joined with army groups under Field Marshal Sir Ber- 
nard L. Montgomery and General Omar N. Bradley in the final assault 
on Germany. 

In detailing the campaign of these Riviera-based armies, the authors 
have concentrated on the operational level of war, paying special atten- 
tion to the problems of joint, combined, and special operations and to 
the significant roles of logistics, intelligence, and personnel policies in 
these endeavors. They have also examined in detail deception efforts at 
the tactical and operational levels, deep battle penetrations, river-cross- 
ing efforts, combat in built-up areas, and tactical innovations at the 
combined arms level. 

Such concepts are of course very familiar to today's military stu- 
dents, and the fact that this volume examines them in such detail 
makes this study especially valuable to younger officers and noncom- 
missioned officers. In truth, the challenges faced by military command- 
ers half a century ago were hardly unique. That is why I particularly 
urge today's military students, who might well face some of these same 
problems in future combat, to study this campaign so that they might 
learn from their illustrious predecessors in the profession of arms. 

Washington, D.C. HAROLD W. NELSON 

Brigadier General, USA 
Chief of Military History 



vn 



The Authors 



Dr. Jeffrey J. Clarke has been a historian at the U.S. Army Center of 
Military History since 1971 and was named its Chief Historian in July 
1990. He has also taught history at Rutgers University and the Univer- 
sity of Maryland-College Park and is currently adjunct associate profes- 
sor of history at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. Dr. 
Clarke holds a Ph.D. in history from Duke University, is a lieutenant 
colonel in the Army Reserve, and served with the 1st Infantry Division 
and Advisory Team 95 during the Vietnam War. He is the author of 
Advice and Support: The Final Years, a volume in the U.S. Army in Viet- 
nam series, and has contributed many articles, papers, and essays on 
military history to a wide variety of professional publications and orga- 
nizations. Dr. Clarke is currently preparing a combat volume on the 
Vietnam War. 

Robert Ross Smith received his B.A. and M.A. from Duke University 
and later served for two years as a member of General Douglas MacAr- 
thur's historical staff during World War II. In 1947 he joined the 
Army's historical office, then known as the Office of the Chief of Mili- 
tary History, where he published The Approach to the Philippines (1953) 
and Triumph in the Philippines (1963) in the U.S. Army in World War II 
series as well as several other military studies. Later he served as histo- 
rian for the United States Army, Pacific, during the Vietnam War. At 
the time of his retirement from the Center of Military History in 1983, 
Mr. Smith was chief of the General History Branch. 



VIU 



Preface 



Riviera to the Rhine examines a significant portion of the Allied drive 
across northern Europe and focuses on the vital role played in that 
drive by the U.S. 6th Army Group, commanded by General Jacob L. 
Devers, and its two major components, the American Seventh Army, 
under General Alexander M. Patch, and the French First Army, under 
General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny. Had these forces not existed, Ei- 
senhower's two northern army groups, those commanded by Field Mar- 
shal Sir Bernard L. Montgomery and General Omar N. Bradley, would 
have been stretched much thinner, with their offensive and defensive 
capabilities greatly reduced. In such a case the German offensive of De- 
cember 1944 might have met with greater success, easily postponing 
the final Allied drive into Germany with unforeseen military and politi- 
cal consequences. Riviera thus should balance the greater public atten- 
tion given to the commands of Montgomery and Bradley by concen- 
trating on the accomplishments of those led by Devers, Patch, and de 
Lattre and, in the process, by highlighting the crucial logistical contri- 
butions of the southern French ports to the Allied war effort. 

This work also constitutes the final volume in the U.S. Army's series 
of operational histories treating the activities of its combat forces 
during the Second World War. It covers the period from August 1944 
to early March 1945 and details the Allied landings in southern France, 
the capture of Toulon and Marseille, the drive north through the 
Rhone River valley, and, following the junction of the Riviera forces 
with those moving east from the Normandy beachhead, the lengthy 
push through the Vosges Mountains and the conquest and defense of 
Alsace. As such, Riviera serves as a bridge between the already pub- 
lished histories of the Allied campaigns in the Mediterranean and those 
treating the campaigns waged in northeastern France. Within the U.S. 
Army's World War II historical series, this volume thus initially paral- 
lels the early sections of Ernest F. Fisher's From Cassino to the Alps, and 
to the north Gordon A. Harrison's Cross-Channel Attack and Martin Blu- 
menson's Breakout and Pursuit. Starting in September 1944, those Riviera 
chapters treating the campaign in the Vosges act as a southern compo- 
nent to Charles B. MacDonald's The Siegfried Line Campaign and Hugh 
M. Cole's The Lorraine Campaign, all supported by Forrest C. Pogue's 



IX 



The Supreme Command, and Roland G. Ruppenthal's theater logistical 
volumes. Riviera's final chapters, detailing the German offensive in 
northern Alsace and the subsequent Allied elimination of the Colmar 
Pocket, constitute a southern companion to Cole's The Ardennes: Battle of 
the Bulge, both of which lead into MacDonald's The Last Offensive. 

Finally Riviera is the study of a combined, Franco-American military 
effort, one which frequently saw major combat units of each nation 
commanded by generals of the other on the field of battle. Although 
outwardly similar, each national component had its own unique style, 
and a deep appreciation of one another's strengths and weaknesses was 
vital to the success of the combined force. National political consider- 
ations also played a significant role in the operations of the combined 
force as did personal conflicts within both chains of command, all of 
which had to be resolved primarily by the principal commanders in the 
field. Although Riviera often focuses more closely on the activities of 
American combat units, the authors have no intention of slighting 
those of the regular French Army or of the French Forces of the Interi- 
or, both of whose operations were vital to the success of the entire 
force. 

The authors are indebted to a long line of officials at the Office of 
the Chief of Military History and its successor, the Center of Military 
History, who ensured the continuation of the project amid periods of 
reduced writing resources and rising historical commitments. Center 
historians who made significant contributions to the manuscript include 
Maj. James T. D. Hamilton, Riley Sunderland, Charles F. Romanus, 
and Martin Blumenson. Deserving substantial recognition is Charles V. 
P. von Luttichau, whose original research in German records and the 
resulting series of monographs on the German Nineteenth Army were 
invaluable. Working under the supervision of the Center's Editor in 
Chief, John W. Elsberg, and the chief of the Editorial Branch, Cather- 
ine A. Heerin, Christine Hardyman served admirably as both the sub- 
stantive and copy editor, contributing greatly to the accuracy and read- 
ability of the account. Barbara H. Gilbert and Diane Sedore Arms then 
carried the manuscript through all the proofing stages. The excellent 
maps are the work of Billy C. Mossman, a former office cartographer 
and author of the Army's recently published Ebb and Flow, a volume in 
the Korean War series. Others who assisted include Gabrielle S. Pat- 
rick, who typed much of the final version; Arthur S. Hardyman, the 
Center's Graphics Branch chief, who muted many (but not all) of the 
final author's unorthodox ideas on maps and photographs; Linda 
Cajka, who designed the cover and mounted the photographs; Michael 
J. Winey and Randy W. Hackenburg of the U.S. Army Military History 
Institute (MHI) at Carlisle Barracks, Pa., and Ouida Brown of the Na- 
tional Archives who assisted the author in selecting the photographs; 
Dr. Richard J. Sommers and David A. Keough of MHI; Izlar Meyers of 



x 



the National Archives; John Jacob of the Marshall Library; Kathy Lloyd 
of the Naval Historical Center; John Taylor of the National Security 
Agency historical and records offices; the historians and archivists at 
the Service Historique de 1'Armee; and James B. Knight, Mary L. 
Sawyer, and Hannah M. Zeidlik of the Center, all of whom provided 
invaluable research assistance. The- authors are also in debt to those 
colleagues at the Center who read portions of the manuscript, includ- 
ing Dr. Richard O. Perry, Dr. John M. Carland, Dr. David W. Hogan, 
George L. MacGarrigle, Dr. Joel D. Meyerson, and Lt. Col. Adrian G. 
Traas. 

Outside readers of the entire manuscript included Professor Russell 
Weigley of Temple University; Martin Blumenson; and General John S. 
Guthrie, former operations officer (G-3) of the Seventh Army. In addi- 
tion, portions of the manuscript were read by Col. Thomas Griess, the 
former chairman of the West Point History Department; French histori- 
ans Paul Rigoulot and Georges Coudry; Col. Helmut Ritgen, former 
battle group commander of the Panzer Lehr Division; William K. 
Wyant, who is currently preparing a biography of General Patch; and 
Michael Hennessy, who is completing a dissertation on the Anvil land- 
ings. Both Smith and Clarke also wish to acknowledge their debt to the 
many veterans of the U.S. Seventh Army and the 6th Army Group who 
freely discussed their experiences with the authors (and their interest in 
seeing the work completed), and in particular Franklin L. Gurley, the 
indefatigable veteran and historian of the 100th Infantry Division. 

Following the completion of the volume, the final author discussed 
the bibliographical note and citations with the archivists at the Military 
Reference Branch and the Military Field Branch of the National Ar- 
chives (Dr. Elaine C. Everly, Howard Whemann, Wilbert B. Mahoney, 
Timothy P. Mulligan, and John L. Taylor) to ensure that those interest- 
ed could easily locate the material used in preparing this study. Since 
neither Smith nor the earlier contributing authors were able to partici- 
pate in the final revision and drafting efforts, the final author is also 
responsible for all interpretations and conclusions as well as for any 
errors or omissions that may occur. 

As one former infantryman remarked to the author at a veterans' 
meeting several years ago, "We don't expect you historians to tell us 
what we did — only we know that. What we want is to know why we did 
it — how we fit into the larger picture." It is this task that Riviera to the 
Rhine attempts to accomplish, providing a tactical, operational, and 
strategic story that treats the roles and missions of the Riviera-based 
armies, how they went about accomplishing those missions, and how 
those accomplishments fit into the larger framework of what another 



XI 



Center historian, Charles MacDonald, once described as "the mighty 
endeavor." 

Washington, D.C. JEFFREY J. CLARKE 



Xll 



Contents 

PART ONE 



Strategy and Operations 

Chapter Page 

I. THE DEBATE OVER SOUTHERN FRANCE 3 

The Protagonists 3 

Trident, May 1943 5 

Another Look at Southern France 7 

The Quadrant Conference 9 

The Cairo and Tehran Conferences 11 

Anvil Canceled 13 

Anvil Restored 17 

Churchill's Last Stand 21 

II. COMMAND AND ORGANIZATION 23 

The High-Level Command Structure 23 

The 6th Army Group and the First French Army 26 

Force 163 and the Seventh Army 30 

III. PLANNING FOR INVASION 35 

The Main Assault Force 35 

Supporting Assault Forces 38 

French Guerrillas 41 

Organization for the Assault 42 

Organization for Logistics 46 

Supply and Shipping Problems 48 

Logistics 50 

IV. GERMAN PLANS AND ORGANIZATION 53 

German Organization and Operational Concepts 53 

German Organization and Strength 56 

The Effects of Overlord 62 

OB Southwest 63 

The German Nineteenth Army 65 

V. THE PLAN OF ASSAULT 71 

Selecting the Landing Area 71 



Xlll 



Chapter Page 

Operational Plans 75 

Air and Naval Support Plans 8 1 

Beyond D-day 83 

Allied Intelligence 85 

The Role of ULTRA 87 

Final Assault Preparations 89 

PART TWO 

The Campaign for Southern France 

VI. ISOLATING THE TARGET AREA 95 

The French Forces of the Interior 96 

Air and Naval Operations 97 

Rangers and Commandos 98 

The 1st Airborne Task Force 101 

The First German Reactions 105 

VII. THE ANVIL BEACHHEAD 108 

The 3d Division Lands 1 08 

The Assault in the Center 112 

The 36th Division on the Right 113 

Camel Red 115 

The 1st Airborne Task Force 118 

The Advance to the Blue Line 1 20 

An Appraisal 122 

VIII. BREAKOUT: 17-19 AUGUST 126 

German Plans 128 

Pressing Westward 128 

The German Defense 129 

Task Force Butler 132 

Accelerating the Campaign 133 

The German Withdrawal 134 

Toulon and Marseille 137 

West to the Rhone 142 

IX. THE BATTLE OF MONTELIMAR 144 

Task Force Butler 144 

The Battle Square 147 

Initial Skirmishes 149 

Reinforcing the Square 150 

The German Reaction 153 

In the Square 154 

Both Sides Reinforce 156 



xiv 



Chapter Page 

The Battle of 25 August 158 

More Reinforcements 1 60 

Battles on the 26th 162 

The German Withdrawal 162 

End of the Battle 166 

Montelimar: Anatomy of a Battle .' 167 

X. PURSUIT TO THE NORTH 171 

Allied Plans 171 

The German Situation 173 

North to Lyon 174 

A Change in Plans 181 

Creation of the Dijon Salient 183 

The Seventh Army Attacks 186 

To the Belfort Gap 190 

An Evaluation 194 

XI. SUPPORTING THE CAMPAIGN 199 

Logistical Problems 200 

Base Development 203 

Fuel and Transportation 205 

Rations 208 

Manpower 209 

Medical Support 211 

Signal Support 212 

Air Support 213 

Close Air Support 215 

Civil Affairs 216 

Civil Affairs Operations 217 

Conclusions 219 

PART THREE 

Ordeal in the Vosges 

XII. STRATEGY AND OPERATIONS 223 

SHAEF's Operational Concepts 223 

SHAEF's Operational Strategy 225 

Patch and Truscott 231 

Tactical Transition 232 

German Plans and Deployment 233 

XIII. VI CORPS AT THE MOSELLE 238 

Allied Plans and Alignment .' 238 

The High Vosges 240 



xv 



Chapter Page 

The 45 th Division at Epinal 242 

The 36th Division in the Center 245 

The German Reaction 247 

The 3d Division on the Moselle 249 

Results 250 

XIV. APPROACHING THE GAPS: SAVERNE 252 

Allied Planning 253 

A Change in Command 254 

VI Corps Attach 257 

XV Corps Before the Saverne Gap 259 

The German Situation in the Luneville Sector 261 

The Forest of Parroy 263 

The Forest and the Fight 267 

More Reorganizations 269 

XV. THE ROAD TO ST. DIE 272 

The VI Corps 272 

The German Defenses 274 

First Try for Bruyeres and Brouvelieures 276 

The 36th Division 280 

The 3d Division .- 285 

Relief and Redeployment 289 

The Vosges Fighting: Problems and Solutions 291 

XVI. APPROACHING THE GAPS: BELFORT 297 

The Initial French Attacks 297 

Logistical Problems 299 

French Plans 301 

The German Defense 304 

The II French Corps ' October Offensive 305 

XVII. INTO THE HIGH VOSGES 311 

Planning the Attack 311 

German Deployments 315 

The Preliminary Attacks 318 

The 3d Division Attacks 319 

XVIII. THE FORESTS OF THE MEURTHE 323 

Dogface Resumed 323 

The German Response 325 

The Attack Stalls 328 

The Lost Battalion 329 

XIX. THE GATES OF THE VOSGES 334 

Planning 334 

The Attack in the North 337 

xvi 



Chapter Page 

German Reorganization 338 

The Attack in the South 340 

VI Corps Resumes the Attack 34 1 

Operation Dogface Ends 342 

PART FOUR 

The November Offensive 

XX. PLANNING THE NOVEMBER OFFENSIVE 349 

General Planning 351 

The First French Army 355 

German Prospects 360 

The Final Allied Schedule 363 

XXI. THROUGH THE SAVERNE GAP 365 

XV Corps Plans 365 

XV Corps Attacks 368 

The Exploitation Plan 371 

Seizing the Gap 373 

The German Response 377 

Planning the Final Stage 379 

Striking for Strasbourg 380 

The Panzer Lehr Counterattack 383 

XXII. TO THE PLAINS OF ALSACE 387 

VI Corps Plans 387 

The German Defense 389 

The Century (100th) Division 392 

The Meurthe River Assault 396 

The 100th and 3d Divisions 399 

The 103d Division 401 

The 36th Division 402 

XXIII. THROUGH THE BELFORT GAP 406 

The First French Army 's Front 406 

Defending the Gap 409 

French Plans 412 

The I Corps Assault 412 

Breakthrough 416 

The Battle of the Gap 419 

The German Counterattacks 423 

The Belfort Gap Secured 428 

XXIV. LOST OPPORTUNITIES 433 

The Colmar Pocket 434 



XVll 



Chapter Page 

A Dubious Decision 437 

PART FIVE 

The Campaign for Alsace 

XXV. A CHANGE IN DIRECTION 449 

The XV Corps Sector 449 

The VI Corps Sector 453 

The VI Corps Advance ,. 455 

The XV Corps Moves North 459 

An Evaluation 462 

XXVI. ON THE SIEGFRIED LINE 464 

The German Situation 466 

The XV Corps Offensive North 468 

The Fortresses of Bitche 471 

The VI Corps Offensive North 475 

VI Corps Attacks 477 

Drive to the West Wall 481 

Into Germany 482 

Stalemate at Colmar 484 

Epilogue 489 

XXVII. NORTHWIND 492 

Planning Operation Northwind 493 

The Defense of Strasbourg 495 

Preparations for the Attack 497 

Preparations for the Defense 499 

The New Year's Eve Attacks 505 

Command and Control 510 

XXVIII. THE BATTLE OF ALSACE 513 

The VI Corps 514 

The French II Corps 516 

The XXXIX Panzer Corps Attacks 518 

The Panzer Assault 521 

The Final Attack 523 

An Analysis 527 

XXIX. THE COLMAR POCKET 533 

Planning the Colmar Offensive 533 

The German Defense 537 

The Initial Attacks 539 

The Bridge at Maison Rouge 542 

Reorganization 547 



XVlll 



Chapter Page 

The February Offensive 550 

Tactics and Techniques 551 

In Retrospect 555 

Toward the Final Offensive 558 

XXX. RIVIERA TO THE RHINE: AN EVALUATION 561 

The Campaigns 561 

The Soldier 565 

Allied Strategy and Operations 573 

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 583 

BASIC MILITARY MAP SYMBOLS 587 

INDEX 589 

Table 

No. ' 

1. Tonnages Discharged at Continental Ports: June 1944-April 1945.... 576 

Maps 

1. Western and Central Europe, 1 September 1939 6 

2. German Dispositions, Southern France, 15 August 1944 66 

3. France 72 

4. The Landing Area 74 

5. The Anvil Landing Plan 76 

6. The Seventh Army Assault, 15-16 August 1944 109 

7. Breakout From the Blue Line, 17-19 August 1944 127 

8. Capture of Toulon and Marseille, French II Corps, 20-28 

August 1944 139 

9. Montelimar Battle Square 148 

10. Pursuit to Lyon, 29 August-3 September 1944 176 

11. Seventh Army Advance Toward Belfort, 4-14 September 1944 187 

12. The Allied Front, 15 September 1944 227 

13. Nineteenth Army Dispositions, 17 September 1944 236 

14. The High Vosges Area 241 

15. The VI Corps Crosses the Moselle River, 20-25 

September 1944 243 

16. The VI Corps Advance, 26-30 September 1944 258 

17. The XV Corps Zone, 25 September 1944 260 



xix 



Page 

18. 79th Infantry Division in the Parroy Forest, 25 September-9 

October 1944 264 

19. 45th Infantry Division Operations, 1-7 October 1944 277 

20. 36th Infantry Division Operations, 1-14 October 1944 281 

21. 3d Infantry Division Operations, 30 September- 14 

October 1944 285 

22. The French II Corps Zone, 4 October 1944 303 

23. The VI Corps Zone, 14 October 1944 312 

24. 6th Army Group Plan of Attack, November 1944 335 

25. The Western Front, 8 November 1944 350 

26. The XV Corps Capture of Strasbourg, 13-23 November 1944 369 

27. Panzer Lehr Counterattack, 23-25 November 1944 385 

28. VI Corps Advance, 12-26 November 1944 390 

29. First French Army Advance Through the Belfort Gap, 14-25 

November 1944 407 

30. The 6th Army Group Front, 26 November 1944 '. 441 

31. Seventh Army Attack, 27 November-4 December 1944 450 

32. Seventh Army Advance to the German Border, 5-20 December 

1944 469 

33. The Colmar Pocket, 5 December 1944 487 

34. The Last German Offensive, 31 December 1944-25 January 1945 .... 506 

35. The Colmar Pocket, 20 January-5 February 1945 540 

Illustrations 

Members of U.S. and British Staffs Conferring 10 

Lt. Gen. Jacob L. Devers 25 

Lt. Gen. Ira C. Eaker, Maj. Gen. John K. Cannon, General Devers, and 

Maj. Gen. Thomas B. Larkin 26 

Lt. Gen. Alexander M. Patch 32 

General Patch, Air Marshal Sir John C. Slessor, General Devers, General 

Sir Henry Maitland Wilson, and Maj. Gen. Lowell W. Rooks 33 

Maj. Gen. Robert T. Frederick 39 

FFI Partisan Group, August 1944 43 

General Johannes Blaskowitz 57 

General Friedrich Wiese 58 

German Armor Passing Through Toulouse 61 

Maj. Gen. Wend von Wietersheim 67 

Defensive Emplacement of a 65-mm. Italian Howitzer 69 

45th Infantry Division Troops Load Up at Bagnoli, Italy, August 1944 90 

Anvil Convoy En Route to Southern France, August 1944 91 

Cape Negre 100 

American and British Paratroopers Take a Short Break, D-day 1944 103 

Pillbox Guards Bridge to St. Raphael 116 



xx 



Page 

Maj. Gen. Ludwig Bieringer, A Prisoner of War 119 

Troops of 45th Division Wade Ashore Near St. Maxime 120 

Troops and Tank Destroyers Move Through Salernes 130 

French Troops in Marseille, August 1944 141 

American Armor Moves Inland 146 

157th Infantry, 45th Division, Passes Through Bourg, September 1944.... 181 
30th Infantry, 3d Division, Crosses Doubs River at Besancon, September 

1944 189 

Tanks of 45th Division Advance in Vicinity of Baume-les-Dames 1 90 

The Champagne Campaign Comes to a Close 193 

French Civilians Restoring Railway in Seventh Army Area 203 

"The Long and the Short and the Tall" 210 

Lt. Gen. Lucian K. Truscott, General Patch, and General Devers, Octo- 
ber 1944 231 

Troops of 36th Infantry Division Cross the Moselle 247 

Maj. Gen. Wade H. Haislip 255 

General Leclerc and Staff at Rambouillet 257 

Parroy Forest 265 

83d Chemical (Mortar) Battalion, 45th Division, Fires 4.2-Inch Mortars.... 279 

4.2-Inch Mortars Hit Le Tholy 288 

Artillery Munitions: Vital in the Vosges 293 

Generals Marshall, de Lattre, and Devers Visit French First Army Head- 
quarters 300 

3d Algerian Division Moves Up to the Rupt Area 304 

Japanese- American Infantry (442d RCT) in Hills Around Bruyeres 319 

Dominiale de Champ Forest 330 

Men From the Lost Battalion 332 

General Patch and Maj. Gen. Edward H. Brooks 337 

Maj. Gen. Withers A. Burress 342 

Company L, 142d Regiment, 36th Division, Pulls Back to Rear in Snow- 
fall 345 

French North African Soldiers 356 

Generals Spragins, Haislip, and Wyche at XV Corps Command Post 366 

Saverne 367 

French 2d Armored Division Moves Through Strasbourg 381 

398th Infantry, 100th Division, in Raon-l'Etape Area 393 

41 1th Infantry, 103d Division, in Vicinity of St. Michel 401 

German Assault Gun Knocked Out by 76-mm. M4 Tank 404 

French Light Tanks at Huningue 418 

Infantry-Tank Team of French 5th Armored Division 424 

French Troops Raise Tricolor Over Chateau de Belfort 431 

Selestat 458 

Soldier and Pack Mule Make Their Way in Heavy Snowfall 462 

Brig. Gen. Albert C. Smith 465 

xxi 



Page 

Maj. Gen. Roderick R. Allen 466 

Commanding Generals Contemplate the Next Move 471 

71st Regiment, 44th Division, Fort Simserhof, November 1944 473 

3 1 3th Regiment, 79th Division, in the Vicinity of Bischwiller 479 

Troops of the 45th Division Make House-to-House Search 485 

Brig. Gen. Henry H. Linden 500 

Brig. Gen. Frederick M. Harris 501 

Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Herren 502 

Building Defensive Works in the Snow 503 

Generals Devers and Patch Confer at Luneville 504 

Men of the 100th Division Maintain Heavy Machine-Gun Position 507 

Gambsheim-Rhine River Area 514 

714th Tank Battalion, 12th Armored Division, Near Bischwiller, France ... 516 

Rifleman of 70th Division Searching for Snipers 517 

48th Tank Battalion, 14th Armored Division, Outside of Rittershoffen 519 

Herrlisheim 524 

Railway Bridge at Neuf-Brisach Finally Destroyed 550 

Neuf-Brisach (Old Fortress Town) 552 

French Infantry Advances Into Colmar 553 

American Infantrymen 566 



All photographs are from the Department of Defense files except 
those appearing on pages 57, 58, and 67, which are the courtesy of the 
Militaergeschichtliches Forschungsamt. 



xxu 



PART ONE 
STRATEGY AND OPERATIONS 



CHAPTER I 



The Debate Over Southern France 



Although ultimately proving to be 
one of the most important Allied 
operations of World War II, the inva- 
sion of southern France has also re- 
mained one of the most controver- 
sial. 1 From start to finish and even 
long afterwards, Allied leaders hotly 
debated its merits and its results. 
Most judged the enterprise solely on 
the basis of its effect on the two 
major Allied campaigns in western 
Europe, the invasion of northern 



'This chapter is based on the following works in 
the United States Army in World War II series of 
the U.S. Army's Office of the Chief of Military His- 
tory (now the Center of Military History, or CMH): 
Robert W. Coakley and Richard M. Leighton, Global 
Logistics and Strategy, 1943-1945 (Washington, 1968); 
Maurice Matloff, Strategic Planning for Coalition War- 
fare, 1943-1944 (Washington, 1959); Forrest C. 
Pogue, The Supreme Command (Washington, 1954); 
Gordon A. Harrison, Cross-Channel Attack (Washing- 
ton, 1951); Howard McGaw Smyth and Albert N. 
Garland, Sicily and the Surrender of Italy (Washington, 
1965); and Martin Blumenson, Salerno to Cassino 
(Washington, 1969). The principal British source 
was John Ehrman, "Grand Strategy," vol. V, August 
1943-September 1944 (London: HMSO, 1956), a 
volume in the series History of the Second World 
War, United Kingdom Military Series. Unpublished 
sources were the following manuscripts (MS): CMH 
MS, James D. T. Hamilton, "Southern France" 
(hereafter cited as Hamilton, "Southern France"); 
MTO MS, Leo J. Meyer, "The Strategic and Logisti- 
cal History of MTO" (copy in CMH, and hereafter 
cited as Meyer, "MTO History"); and CMH draft re- 
search papers by Walter G. Hermes and Darrie H. 
Richards, both in CMH, for the Matloff volume 
cited above. 



France and the invasion of Italy. Sup- 
porters, mainly American, pointed out 
its vital assistance to the former, and 
detractors, mostly British, emphasized 
its pernicious influence on the latter. 
Even many years after these events, 
surprisingly few have ever examined 
the campaign in southern France 
itself or added anything to the origi- 
nal arguments that surrounded the 
project from its initial inception to its 
execution some fourteen months 
later. Yet the debate over the invasion 
of southern France was central to the 
evolving Allied military strategy 
during that time and became almost a 
permanent fixture at Allied planning 
conferences in 1943 and 1944. 

The Protagonists 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt 
and Prime Minister Winston S. 
Churchill together headed the Anglo- 
American coalition and made or ap- 
proved all political and strategic deci- 
sions. They were assisted by their 
principal military advisers, the Ameri- 
can Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and the 
British Chiefs of Staff (BCS). 2 Each 

2 The JCS members were Admiral William D. 
Leahy, Chief of Staff to President Roosevelt; Gener- 
al George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army; 
Admiral Ernest J. King, Chief of Naval Operations 



4 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



national group met separately and 
formulated plans and programs, but 
then came together in a single com- 
mittee called the Combined Chiefs of 
Staff (CCS) to discuss matters further 
and arrive at joint decisions. The CCS 
spoke for the president and the prime 
minister, allocated resources among 
the theaters of operation, and direct- 
ed Allied theater commanders. From 
time to time, when the two Allied po- 
litical leaders came together to re- 
solve key issues, the CCS accompa- 
nied them and sought to reconcile the 
often divergent views and interests of 
the United States and Great Britain. 
Occasionally, Roosevelt and Churchill 
conferred with other Allied leaders, 
such as Joseph Stalin, and on those 
occasions the military chiefs were also 
consulted. 

At first the British tended to domi- 
nate the Anglo-American strategic de- 
liberations. They had been in the 
conflict from the beginning, had 
amassed more experience, and had 
more military forces engaged than the 
poorly prepared Americans, who en- 
tered the struggle more than two 
years later. As the Americans commit- 
ted increasing manpower and materiel 
to the war, they gradually became the 
more important partner and had cor- 
respondingly greater influence on the 
courses of action adopted by the alli- 
ance. 

In 1942 Churchill had proposed the 
North African invasion, and Roose- 



and Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet; and General 
Henry H. Arnold, Chief of Staff of the Army Air 
Forces. The BCS leaders were Field Marshal Sir 
Alan Brooke, Chief of the Imperial General Staff 
(Army); Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Portal, Chief 
of the Air Staff; and Admiral of the Fleet Sir Dudley 
Pound (replaced in October 1943 by Admiral of the 
Fleet Sir Andrew B. Cunningham). 



velt, over the objections of the JCS, 
had acquiesced. At the Casablanca 
Conference in January 1943, the Brit- 
ish had recommended and the Ameri- 
cans had reluctantly accepted the sei- 
zure of Sicily upon the conclusion of 
the Tunisian campaign. What differ- 
entiated the outlooks of the two par- 
ties was where and when to make the 
Allied main effort in Europe. 

The Americans wished to launch an 
immediate cross-Channel attack from 
England to the Continent, followed 
by a massive and direct thrust into 
the heart of Germany. General 
George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff of 
the U.S. Army, a member of the JCS, 
and the dominant figure among 
American planners for the war in 
Europe, was the primary spokesman 
for this operational strategy, and Mar- 
shall tended to judge other ventures 
by evaluating their possible effect on 
what he thought should be the main 
Allied effort. In contrast, the British 
preferred a peripheral, or "blue 
water," strategy, undertaking lesser 
operations around the rim of Europe 
to wear down Germany and Italy 
before launching the climactic cross- 
Channel strike. What the British 
wanted in particular was to continue 
the offensive momentum in the Medi- 
terranean area as opportunities un- 
folded. 

British preference for operations in 
the Mediterranean, especially along 
the eastern shores of the sea, was mo- 
tivated in part by postwar political 
considerations that were not shared 
by their American Allies. As such they 
were rigorously opposed by Marshall 
and his cohorts. But the United 
States, in turn, had similar political 
commitments in Southeast Asia and 



THE DEBATE OVER SOUTHERN FRANCE 



5 



China that had little to do with British 
interests overseas. Differences in mili- 
tary strategy and postwar political 
concerns thus colored all discussions 
of future Allied operations and in the 
end forced the CCS to adopt a series 
of compromises not entirely satisfac- 
tory to either side. Such, inevitably, is 
the nature of coalition warfare, and 
the southern France invasion repre- 
sented one of the major compromises 
of the Anglo-American partnership 
during World War II. 

Trident, May 1943 

The proposal for an invasion of 
southern France formally arose in 
May 1943 at the Trident Conference, 
a series of meetings between the 
American and British staffs held in 
Washington, D.C. At the time, the 
Allies had cleared North Africa and 
were preparing to invade Sicily, but 
had not yet decided on subsequent 
operational objectives. In their pre- 
liminary gatherings, theJCS had their 
eyes firmly fixed on an assault across 
the English Channel, eventually code- 
named Overlord; following a suc- 
cessful Sicilian campaign, they wanted 
to begin transferring all Allied mili- 
tary resources out of the Mediterrane- 
an theater to support an Overlord 
invasion sometime in the spring of 
1944. But this, they realized, was 
hardly feasible. The campaign in 
Sicily promised to be over by the end 
of summer, and the prospect of sus- 
pending all ground operations against 
the Axis until the following year, a 
gap of possibly eight or more months, 
was unacceptable. Some interim oper- 
ations beyond Sicily were required, 
and the considerable Allied establish- 



ment in the Mediterranean argued for 
further activity in the area, especially 
if it could divert German resources 
from northern France without greatly 
impeding the Allied buildup in Great 
Britain. 

The JCS considered a number of 
potential target areas, including 
southern France, southern Italy, Sar- 
dinia and Corsica, the Genoa area of 
northwestern Italy, Crete and the Do- 
decanese Islands in the eastern Medi- 
terranean, th e Balkan s, and the Iberi- 
an Peninsula {Map 1) The majority of 
American planners regarded an early 
invasion of southern France as ex- 
tremely risky: an exploitation north- 
ward would require more strength 
than the Allies were likely to leave in 
the Mediterranean, and the operation 
would demand the prior occupation 
of Sardinia and Corsica, causing an- 
other diversion of Allied resources. 
As for the Iberian Peninsula, earlier 
fears that the Germans might move 
against Gibraltar had disappeared, 
and no one saw Spain as a potential 
invasion route to anywhere. In the 
eastern Mediterranean, air support re- 
quirements for operations appeared 
to depend on Turkish entry into the 
war on the Allied side, an unlikely 
event. Many also believed that oper- 
ations in either the eastern Mediterra- 
nean or the Balkans would lead to a 
major Allied commitment in south- 
eastern Europe, where logistical and 
geographical problems could pre- 
clude the application of decisive 
strength. Although the Italian penin- 
sula appeared to be an immediately 
feasible objective, the JCS feared that 
the invasion would evolve into a 
major campaign that would divert re- 
sources from Overlord. Instead, 



THE DEBATE OVER SOUTHERN FRANCE 



7 



American planners concluded that the 
seizure of Sardinia, and probably Cor- 
sica as well, would prove the most de- 
sirable action in the Mediterranean. 
The operations would keep some 
pressure on the Axis, while from 
bases on Sardinia and Corsica the 
Allies could pose strong threats 
against both Italy and southern 
France, thereby pinning Axis forces in 
place. 

British planners attending Trident 
were better prepared. They quickly 
agreed with their American opposites 
that an early invasion of southern 
France would be difficult and, fur- 
thermore, doubted the value of seiz- 
ing Sardinia and Corsica. Instead, the 
BCS proposed that action in the Med- 
iterranean be aimed at eliminating 
Italy from the war in 1943. The col- 
lapse of Italian resistance would not 
only provide the Allies with a great 
psychological victory but would also, 
the BCS argued, compel Germany to 
redeploy strong forces to Italy to hold 
the German southern flank, thereby 
promoting the success of Overlord 
as well as relieving German pressure 
on the Russian front. As an alterna- 
tive, the BCS were prepared to pro- 
pose a move into the Balkans, esti- 
mating that Germany would divert 
strong forces from both the east and 
west to hold southeastern Europe. In 
the end, however, they persuaded the 
Americans that an early invasion of 
Italy was the best solution. 

Thus the idea of an invasion of 
southern France attracted some atten- 
tion at Trident, but was dropped 
from primary consideration. Instead, 
with some reluctance on the part of 
the JCS, the CCS approved the con- 
cept of knocking Italy out of the war 



in 1943. Almost immediately they di- 
rected General Dwight D. Eisenhow- 
er, commanding Allied forces in the 
Mediterranean, 3 to draw up plans for 
invading Italy and tying down the 
maximum number of German divi- 
sions in the Mediterranean area. In 
late July, with Allied success on Sicily 
assured and with the sudden collapse 
of the Mussolini government in Italy, 
the CCS, at Eisenhower's behest, 
agreed that an invasion of southern 
Italy would best achieve the ends set 
forth at Trident; the Allied high 
command scheduled the invasion for 
early September 1943. 

Another Look at Southern France 

Throughout the summer of 1943 
American planners continued to 
regard the Mediterranean theater with 
mixed feelings. The Joint War Plans 
Committee of the JCS emphasized the 
advantages of fighting the major west- 
ern European battles in Italy if the 
Germans so elected, pointing out that 
once the Allies had cleared the Ital- 
ian peninsula, the newly renovated 
French Army could invade southern 
France with relative ease. The Joint 
Strategic Survey Committee, thinking 
along similar lines, suggested that 
after Italy had been eliminated from 
the war, the Allies might well launch 
a major invasion of southern France 
in conjunction with a much smaller 



3 At this time Eisenhower's command consisted of 
Allied forces in North Africa and in the western and 
central Mediterranean. He was also commander of 
the U.S. Army's administrative headquarters, the 
North African Theater of Operations, U.S. Army 
(NATOUSA). The region east of Italy was under 
General Sir Henry Maitland Wilson, the commander 
of the British Middle East Theater. 



8 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



Overlord effort undertaken with 
forces left over from the Mediterrane- 
an. Navy planners favored a major 
effort in Italy, believing that a south- 
ern approach would allow more am- 
phibious resources to be switched to 
the Pacific. 

Although the JCS easily resisted 
these internal arguments against the 
basic Overlord concept, they were 
still unable to decide how best to ex- 
ploit the decline of Axis power in the 
Mediterranean with the resources left 
in the theater after Overlord re- 
quirements had been met. The situa- 
tion was further complicated by the 
lack of sufficient shipping to move the 
bulk of Mediterranean resources to 
England for Overlord. In many cases 
it was easier to ship Overlord forces 
from America to England than from 
the Mediterranean; for example, the 
Allies would probably never have 
enough shipping to move the French 
Army from North Africa to England 
for participation in Overlord. 

American planners thus believed 
that after all Overlord requirements 
had been met they would still have 
enough strength left in the Mediterra- 
nean to maintain strong pressure 
against German forces in Italy; to 
seize Sardinia and Corsica; to estab- 
lish air bases on the Dodecanese Is- 
lands; and, in conjunction with Over- 
lord, to launch some kind of assault 
against southern France. Even if the 
Allies halted all offensive action in the 
Mediterranean, they would still have 
to leave twelve to fourteen divisions 
in the theater to maintain security and 
to pose threats. Better to have these 
forces engage in at least limited 
offensives than to have them waste 
away from inaction. A small, multi- 



division landing in southern France 
would obviously complement Over- 
lord, representing a secondary, 
southern prong of the Allied attack 
on German-occupied France. Current 
Overlord plans in July 1943 even 
called for such a diversionary effort 
against southern France at the time of 
the cross-Channel assault. But Ameri- 
can planners now began to propose 
that the southern landings be more 
than a diversion and be upgraded to a 
larger effort — one that would provide 
continued assistance to Overlord, 
would make immediate use of the 
French Army, and, incidentally, would 
preempt any British proposals to 
employ excess Allied strength in the 
eastern Mediterranean. 

For these reasons the JCS decided in 
August 1943 formally to support an in- 
vasion of southern France, code- 
named Anvil, which would be 
launched either before, during, or after 
Overlord as the situation permitted; 
they ultimately concluded that the op- 
eration would have to follow Over- 
lord. 4 American planners reasoned 
that a successful Anvil would probably 
depend on Overlord to deplete 
German strength in southern France, 
while the seizure of the southern ports 
and a subsequent drive to the north 
would force the Germans to defend the 
approaches to their own country from 
two directions. Still giving overriding 
priority to Overlord, the JCS thus set- 
tled on a three-phase plan for the Med- 
iterranean: (1) eliminating Italy from 
the war and clearing the Italian penin- 
sula as far north as Rome; (2) capturing 



4 Shortly before the invasion of southern France, 
the code name changed to Dragoon, but to avoid 
confusion Anvil is used throughout the text. 



THE DEBATE OVER SOUTHERN FRANCE 



9 



Sardinia and Corsica to increase the 
width and depth of the Allied air pene- 
tration into Europe; and (3) creating a 
situation in the Mediterranean favor- 
able to the launching of Anvil about 
the time of Overlord. Specifically, the 
JCS plan for southern France called for 
the seizure of a beachhead in the 
Toulon-Marseille area, the develop- 
ment of Toulon and Marseille into 
major supply ports, and an exploitation 
northward up the Rhone valley to sup- 
port Overlord. This was the basic 
Anvil concept on which all planning 
for the invasion of southern France 
turned for nearly another year. 

The Quadrant Conference 

Soon after the end of the Sicilian 
campaign in August 1943, Roosevelt, 
Churchill, and the CCS met in 
Quebec at the Quadrant Conference. 
There the British accepted the JCS 
program for the Mediterranean in 
principle. However, the BCS also 
pointed out that the Allies would 
have to make Overlord a much 
stronger assault than current plans 
envisaged and that the forces already 
allocated to Overlord would require 
more amphibious lift than had been 
planned. If the United States was un- 
willing to make the additional lift 
available from Pacific allocations, it 
would logically have to come from the 
Mediterranean, inevitably threatening 
Anvil. The BCS also believed that an 
effective Anvil would require a three- 
division assault, but British projec- 
tions indicated that by late spring of 
1944 the Allies would have only a 
mixed collection of ships and landing 
craft left in the Mediterranean, capa- 
ble at best of putting a single rein- 



forced division ashore. Eisenhower 
agreed with the BCS that anything 
less than a three-division Anvil would 
not be feasible unless Allied forces in 
Italy had first reached the Franco- 
Italian border. 

The JCS admitted the necessity for 
increasing the Overlord assault ech- 
elon, but they convinced the BCS that 
the Allies should continue planning 
for at least some kind of Anvil oper- 
ation on the basis of the limited 
means expected to be available in the 
Mediterranean at the time of Over- 
lord. Accordingly, a Quadrant deci- 
sion by the Combined Chiefs of Staff 
directed Eisenhower to prepare an 
Anvil plan by November 1943. The 
directive was somewhat vague and did 
not differentiate between the British 
view that Anvil should be reduced to 
a threat at the time of Overlord and 
the American desire to make Anvil a 
major operation directly connected to 
Overlord. But obviously the pres- 
sures against Anvil were growing. A 
JCS insistence on a three-division 
Anvil would create a natural competi- 
tion between Overlord and Anvil 
for amphibious resources. Meanwhile, 
the demands of operations in Italy 
would generate their own momentum 
at the expense of both Anvil and 
Overlord. Finally, the British, at 
Quadrant, expressed continuing in- 
terest in limited operations in the 
eastern Mediterranean, operations 
that would also divert resources from 
Anvil. 

Eisenhower submitted his reduced 
Anvil plan in late October 1943. By 
then the heady optimism of the 
summer had faded. The Allies had 
successfully invaded southern Italy in 
September, Italian resistance had col- 



10 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 




Members of U.S. and British Staffs Conferring, Quebec, 23 August 1943. Seated 
around the table from left foreground: Vice Adm. Lord Louis Mountbatten, Sir Dudley Pound, 
Sir Alan Brooke, Sir Charles Portal, Sir John Dill, Lt. Gen. Sir Hastings L. Ismay, Brigadier 
Harold Redman, Comdr. R. D. Coleridge, Brig. Gen. John R. Deane, General Arnold, 
General Marshall, Admiral William D. Leahy, Admiral King, and Capt. F. B. Royal. 



lapsed, and the Germans had evacuat- 
ed both Sardinia and Corsica. But 
they had also quickly moved rein- 
forcements into Italy, while the Allied 
buildup was slow. By late October the 
Germans had twenty-five divisions in 
Italy as opposed to eighteen for the 
Allies, and the Allied commanders 
faced a stalemate if not a serious re- 
verse. Hopes that Allied forces might 
reach Rome before the end of 1943 
had disappeared. 

Eisenhower's Anvil plan made it 
clear that the Allies would be able to 
mount little more than a threat to 
southern France at the time of Over- 



lord, then scheduled for about 1 May 
1944. There was simply not enough 
amphibious shipping in the European 
theater for two major assaults. Eisen- 
hower himself felt that there was little 
chance for the Allies to be far enough 
north in Italy by the spring of 1944 to 
launch an overland invasion of south- 
ern France from that quarter; the best 
he could promise was the seizure of a 
small beachhead in southern France 
in the unlikely event that the Ger- 
mans withdrew the bulk of their 
forces from the south. He concluded 
that the Allies might do better at 
spreading out German defenses by 



THE DEBATE OVER SOUTHERN FRANCE 



11 



continuing the Italian offensive with 
all resources available in the Mediter- 
ranean. As for the eastern Mediterra- 
nean, Eisenhower, with the concur- 
rence of the BCS, judged that no 
operations could be undertaken in 
that area until the Allied forces on the 
Italian mainland were at least as far 
north as Rome. In the end, Eisenhow- 
er recommended that Anvil remain 
indefinite, as one of several alterna- 
tives the Allies should consider for 
the future in the Mediterranean. 

The British requested that the JCS 
accept Eisenhower's concept as a 
basis for future planning, a step the 
JCS reluctantly took early in Novem- 
ber. As a result, plans for an Anvil 
operation in conjunction with Over- 
lord were dropped from consider- 
ation before the next CCS meeting, 
and Anvil was absent from the Sex- 
tant Conference agenda when the 
CCS convened at Cairo late in No- 
vember 1943. 

The Cairo and Tehran Conferences 
(November-December 1943) 

The meeting of the western Allied 
leaders with Generalissimo Chiang 
Kai-shek at Cairo, code-named Sex- 
tant, on 22-26 November 1943, was 
followed by a second conference with 
Joseph Stalin in Tehran, 28 Novem- 
ber- 1 December, and then a final ses- 
sion at Cairo, 3-7 December. 5 At the 
initial Sextant meetings, the British 
again pressed for increased Allied ef- 
forts in the central and eastern Medi- 



5 For a detailed treatment of the conferences, see 
Keith Sainsbury, The Turning Point: Roosevelt, Stalin, 
Churchill, and Chiang Kai-shek, 1943. The Moscow, 
Cairo, and Tehran Conferences (Oxford: Oxford Univer- 
sity Press, 1985). 



terranean. They proposed a schedule 
that called for an advance in Italy as 
far as Rome by January 1944; the cap- 
ture of Rhodes during February; a 
drive in Italy as far as the line Pisa- 
Rimini (about halfway from Rome to 
the Po River in northern Italy); and 
increased support to Yugoslav guer- 
rillas (including the establishment of 
minor beachheads on the east coast 
of the Adriatic). To provide the am- 
phibious lift needed to support all 
these operations and to increase the 
amphibious allocations for Overlord, 
the BCS recommended canceling am- 
phibious undertakings in Southeast 
Asia and postponing Overlord until 
July 1944. Eisenhower appeared to 
support the British outlook. He ac- 
knowledged the value of harassment 
operations across the Adriatic and 
suggested that after the Po valley had 
been reached, the French Army could 
move westward into southern France 
and the other Allied forces could ad- 
vance northeast. 

The reaction of the JCS was pre- 
dictable. The British and Eisenhower 
presentations threatened the place of 
Overlord as the centerpiece of the 
war in Europe. Although the May 
target date was hardly sacrosanct, a 
delay until July was intolerable, and 
waiting until the Allies had reached 
the Po River valley would probably 
set the invasion back to August. 
Moreover, commitments to Chiang 
Kai-shek at Cairo made it virtually im- 
possible for the JCS to cancel South- 
east Asia operations. To General Mar- 
shall all these proposals posed serious 
threats to Overlord and represented 
a return to the British peripheral 
strategy or, worse, one that would 
have had American troops fighting in 



12 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



the Balkans and the Italian Alps. 

Settling nothing at Cairo, the CCS 
moved on to Tehran for consultations 
with Stalin and Russian military lead- 
ers. During preliminary conferences in 
Moscow among American, British, and 
Russian officials in late October and 
early November, the Americans had 
gathered that the Russians favored in- 
creased efforts in the Mediterranean 
and perhaps some operations in the 
Balkans to divert German strength 
from the eastern front. U.S. represent- 
atives had also received the impression 
that the Russians were no more than 
lukewarm toward Overlord. 6 Howev- 
er, at Tehran Russian representatives 
vehemently objected to further Anglo- 
American operations in the Mediterra- 
nean-Balkan area that might detract 
from Overlord, which, the Soviets in- 
sisted, had to be launched in May 1944. 
To the surprise of both the Americans 
and British, the Soviets also proposed 
an invasion of southern France in sup- 
port of Overlord. While not insistent 
about Anvil, the Russians firmly op- 
posed other major offensives in the 
Mediterranean and took a stand 
against any advance in Italy beyond the 
lines the Allies had already attained. 
Stalin maintained that any major oper- 
ation in the Mediterranean other than 



6 The principal American figures at the prelimi- 
nary Moscow talks were Secretary of State Cordell 
Hull, Ambassador to Russia W. Averell Harriman, 
and Maj. Gen. John R. Deane, the U.S. military rep- 
resentative in Moscow. The ranking British were 
Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden and General Sir 
Hastings Ismay. A mystery still surrounds these pre- 
liminary Moscow meetings. The Americans may 
have misunderstood the Russians; Soviet thinking 
may have undergone a sweeping change between 
the Moscow and Tehran conferences; or the Rus- 
sians may simply have been attempting to ascertain 
the reactions of the western Allies to various pro- 
posals. 



Anvil would prove strategically indeci- 
sive and could lead only to the disper- 
sal of Overlord resources. He ap- 
peared intrigued with the pincers 
aspect of a combined Overlord-Anvil 
campaign, but urged that not even 
Anvil should be permitted to interfere 
with Overlord. 

The CCS promised Stalin that Over- 
lord would be launched toward the 
end of May 1944, a compromise be- 
tween the American date of 1 May and 
the British proposal of 1 July. The CCS 
also assured Stalin that they would exe- 
cute Anvil concurrently with Over- 
lord on the largest scale possible with 
the amphibious lift left in the Mediter- 
ranean in May, and they agreed to 
carry the offensive in Italy no farther 
than the Pisa-Rimini line, about 150 
miles north of Rome, but 100 miles 
short of the Po valley. 

Returning to Cairo, the CCS took 
another look at the amphibious lift 
available for Anvil. Even by scraping 
the bottoms of all potential barrels, 
they estimated that sufficient lift for a 
one-division assault with a quick 
follow-up of two-thirds of a division 
was all that could be assembled by May 
1944. As a remedy, the BCS again pro- 
posed canceling projected amphibious 
operations in Southeast Asia or reduc- 
ing Pacific allocations. With great re- 
luctance, Admiral Ernest J. King, Chief 
of Naval Operations and a member of 
theJCS, agreed to divert enough Pacif- 
ic lift resources to execute a two-divi- 
sion Anvil assault. 7 However, King's 



'King expressed concern that the reallocation 
might delay the capture of Truk in the central Caro- 
line Islands, then scheduled for July or August 
1944. However, theJCS had already begun to ques- 
tion the necessity for seizing Truk and were also 
looking for other operations to cancel in order to 



THE DEBATE OVER SOUTHERN FRANCE 



13 



offer helped little, permitting only a 
minimum, risky Anvil assault; making 
no allowance for unforeseen contin- 
gencies in the Mediterranean; and still 
leaving the amphibious resources for 
Overlord at a level that many plan- 
ners considered inadequate. 

The British were still dissatisfied 
and requested that even more am- 
phibious shipping be allocated from 
the Pacific theater. Reminding the 
JCS that Russia would ultimately 
enter the war against Japan, the BCS 
argued that major amphibious oper- 
ations in Southeast Asia were thus 
unnecessary, making it possible to 
transfer more such resources to the 
European theater. But the JCS at first 
refused to accept the British rationale, 
and the matter reached a temporary 
impasse. However, on 5 December 
President Roosevelt, changing com- 
mitments to China, agreed to cancel 
some of the planned operations in 
Southeast Asia, and the CCS thereaf- 
ter began dividing the excess lift be- 
tween Overlord and Anvil. 

Thus, at the beginning of Decem- 
ber 1943, Anvil was again on the 
agenda and, instead of a diversionary 
threat, was to be an integral adjunct 
to Overlord. Indeed, the CCS now 
went so far as to agree that Over- 
lord and Anvil would be the "su- 
preme" operations in Europe during 
1944 and that no other campaigns in 
Europe should be allowed to prevent 
the success of those two. Prospects 
that other operations in the Mediter- 
ranean, at least, would not interfere 
with Anvil were also brightened by a 



speed the war in the Pacific. See Robert Ross Smith, 
The Approach to the Philippines, United States Army in 
World War II (Washington, 1953), ch. 1. 



British agreement to halt in Italy at 
the Pisa-Rimini line and by the fact 
that a British condition for the cap- 
ture of Rhodes — Turkish entry into 
the war — could not be met. The only 
other Mediterranean threat to Anvil 
was the possibility that outflanking 
amphibious maneuvers in Italy, such 
as the one planned for Anzio in early 
1944, might reduce Anvil allocations. 
But most American planners foresaw 
that the real danger to Anvil, if any, 
would come from pressures to 
strengthen the Overlord assault. 

Anvil Canceled 

The turn of the year saw a general 
reshuffling of command structures 
and boundaries in the European and 
Mediterranean theaters. The CCS ap- 
pointed Eisenhower as supreme 
Allied commander for Overlord, and 
he left the Mediterranean in Decem- 
ber. General Sir Bernard L. Mont- 
gomery, who was to be Allied ground 
commander for Overlord, and Lt. 
Gen. Walter Bedell Smith, who was 
to be chief of staff at Eisenhower's 
new command — Supreme Headquar- 
ters, Allied Expeditionary Force 
(SHAEF)— followed. The Mediterra- 
nean, previously divided between Ei- 
senhower and the commander of the 
British Middle East Theater, General 
Sir Henry Maitland 'Jumbo" Wilson, 
became unified under Wilson. 

After reaching London Montgom- 
ery and Smith began reviewing the 
draft Overlord plans and pressing 
for major increases in the size of the 
Overlord assault, a step the prelimi- 
nary planners had been urging on the 
CCS for months. Knowing that no 
other ready source but Anvil existed 



14 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



from which to draw the amphibious 
lift needed to enlarge Overlord, they 
recommended that the lift be taken 
from Anvil and that Anvil be re- 
duced to a one-division threat. The 
BCS supported these recommenda- 
tions, reiterating their position that 
Anvil should not be permitted to 
interfere in any way with Overlord. 

The renewed pressure against 
Anvil put Eisenhower in an ambigu- 
ous situation when he reached 
London in mid-January. 8 One of his 
last tasks as Allied commander in the 
Mediterranean had been to prepare a 
new Anvil plan in accordance with a 
CCS post-SEXTANT directive. Eisen- 
hower's plan had again been built 
around a three-division Anvil assault 
followed by exploitation northward. 
Only the three-division Anvil, Eisen- 
hower believed, would provide strong 
support to Overlord — support that a 
mere threat could not provide. He re- 
minded the BCS and his principal 
subordinates that the CCS had prom- 
ised Anvil to the Russians, and re- 
peated his arguments about the most 
effective use of the French Army. If 
Anvil were canceled, many French 
and even many American divisions 
might well be locked in the Mediter- 
ranean, wasted for lack of shipping to 
take them to northern France, for lack 
of port capacity in the Overlord area 
to support them, and for lack of room 
in Italy to deploy them. Eisenhower 
made clear his reluctance to reduce 
Anvil to a threat and proposed that 
every other possible means of 
strengthening Overlord be sought. 



8 Before going to England, Eisenhower made a 
trip to the United States, and thus reached London 
after Montgomery and Smith. 



The JCS generally agreed. 

The next step in the debate was a 
highly technical argument between 
British and American logistical plan- 
ners over the capacity, serviceability, 
and availability of assault shipping 
and landing craft already allocated to 
Overlord. Employing American fig- 
ures, the JCS concluded that the 
Allies could significantly increase the 
size of the Overlord assault force 
and still provide the lift necessary for 
at least a two-division Anvil. The JCS 
carried this argument almost to the 
point of insisting on a two-division 
Anvil, with Overlord being under- 
taken with the means left over after 
the Anvil demands were met. Per- 
haps happily for their peace of mind, 
other problems arose before the JCS 
were forced to push their argument 
to its logical conclusion — giving a 
two-division Anvil priority over 
Overlord. 

As had been the case earlier, the 
war in Italy now began to influence 
the fate of Anvil. On 22 January 
1944, in an attempt to outflank 
German defenses and speed the cap- 
ture of Rome, the U.S. VI Corps 
surged ashore at Anzio, on Italy's 
west coast some thirty miles south of 
Rome. But the Germans reacted vig- 
orously, and the Allied landing forces 
soon found themselves confined to 
the beachhead, unable to move 
toward Rome or even to establish 
contact with Wilson's main armies to 
the south. The Italian campaign had 
again bogged down, and the Anzio 
venture began to consume resources 
that planners had already earmarked 
for Anvil. 

The situation in Italy prompted 
Churchill to recommend immediate 



THE DEBATE OVER SOUTHERN FRANCE 



15 



reinforcement of the theater and the 
abandonment of Anvil. Italy was 
where the Allies had the best oppor- 
tunity to tie down German divisions 
and thus contribute to the success of 
Overlord. It was unjustifiable, he 
held, to deny resources to the Italian 
campaign for the sake of Anvil. Far 
better to transfer the bulk of the 
scarce amphibious lift earmarked for 
Anvil to Overlord, retaining per- 
haps enough shipping in the Mediter- 
ranean for a one-division threat and 
ultimately moving the French Army to 
northern France when more shipping 
became available. Anvil, he contend- 
ed, was too far from Normandy to 
give direct support to Overlord. 

The BCS agreed. The Allies were 
attempting to execute three major 
campaigns, Overlord, Anvil, and 
Italy, and had given none of them 
sufficient resources for success. The 
British arguments boiled down to two 
simple propositions: if the campaign 
in Italy went poorly, then it would be 
necessary to commit the Anvil re- 
sources there; if the campaign in Italy 
went well, then Anvil was unneces- 
sary. 

By mid-February 1944 Anvil had 
lost most of its prominent supporters 
among Allied planners in both Eng- 
land and the Mediterranean. Even Ei- 
senhower had begun to waver. He 
still wanted Anvil, but thought that 
the Allies would be unable to disen- 
gage sufficient strength from Italy to 
execute a meaningful landing in the 
south at the time of Overlord. More- 
over, he was still anxious to obtain 
additional resources for Overlord. 
Within the JCS, General Marshall felt 
that the Allies would probably have to 
cancel Anvil as an operation more or 



less concurrent with Overlord unless 
Wilson's forces in Italy reached Rome 
before April 1944. Marshall was will- 
ing to forego Anvil if Eisenhower in- 
sisted, but suggested that the JCS 
could accept a stabilized front in Italy 
south of Rome if such a step would 
enhance the chances of executing 
Anvil about the time of Overlord. 
He still believed that canceling Anvil 
out of hand was unwise and still 
hoped that improvements in the 
Allied situation at some future date 
might make the operation again feasi- 
ble and perhaps even necessary. 

The CCS finally reached another 
compromise. The JCS agreed to allo- 
cate all Mediterranean resources to 
Italy temporarily for the purpose of 
seizing Rome by May 1944, and the 
BCS instructed Wilson, the theater 
commander, to continue planning for 
Anvil to be launched as circum- 
stances in Italy permitted. The CCS 
deferred a final Anvil decision until 
late March, but this delay left the pro- 
jected assault at the mercy of pres- 
sures from both Italy and Overlord. 

In March Eisenhower, still attempt- 
ing to increase the size of the Over- 
lord assault force, recommended first 
postponing a decision on Anvil and 
then canceling the operation entirely. 
Concerned over the ability of Wilson 
to transfer additional amphibious re- 
sources from the Mediterranean in 
time for Overlord, he wished to 
assume no unnecessary risks for the 
sake of Anvil. At the time, launching 
both Overlord and Anvil concur- 
rently seemed impossible. The earli- 
est prospect of gaining Rome was 
mid-June, which meant the earliest 
possible date for Anvil was mid-July. 
Thus he proposed immediately reduc- 



16 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



ing Mediterranean resources for 
Anvil to a one-division lift, transfer- 
ring the excess amphibious assets to 
Overlord, and reducing Anvil to a 
strategic threat that might possibly be 
executed around the time of Over- 
lord if the circumstances permitted. 
With the British agreeing to Eisen- 
hower's proposals, the JCS, on 24 
March, reluctantly concurred. 

Late in March, however, the JCS 
appeared to be trying to reverse the 
decision and insisted on scheduling at 
least a two-division Anvil for 10 July. 
The American staff may have been 
concerned at this point about a re- 
newed British interest in the Balkans. 
Recently, for example, Wilson had 
proposed using the one-division lift 
left in the Mediterranean for a variety 
of operations, including the establish- 
ment of a beachhead at the head of 
the Adriatic. As might be expected, 
the JCS opposed this project as well 
as another Wilson suggestion that the 
offensive in Italy be pushed to the Po 
River. Wilson had already estimated 
that he would have difficulties deploy- 
ing more than eight divisions north of 
Rome until he had seized major ports 
in northern Italy; the Americans thus 
believed that he would not be able to 
employ usefully all of the Allied 
forces left in the theater. The JCS 
also estimated that the Germans 
could hold a defensive line north of 
Rome for six months or more, while 
at the same time retaining the ability 
to redeploy significant strength from 
Italy to the Overlord area. To the 
JCS, a reasonably early and strong 
Anvil still appeared to provide the 
best means of supporting Overlord 
and of effectively employing Allied re- 
sources in the Mediterranean. 



To accomplish this, the JCS prom- 
ised the British that sufficient am- 
phibious lift would be made available 
from American resources to execute a 
two-division Anvil in July. 9 However, 
the Americans also specified that the 
additional lift could be used only for 
the purpose of executing Anvil on or 
about 10 July, and accompanied the 
offer with a proposal that Wilson halt 
his offensive in Italy south of Rome 
so that the Anvil target date could be 
met. 

Allied strategic discussions over the 
matter now reached an impasse. Reit- 
erating old arguments against Anvil 
and for Italy, the BCS submitted 
counterproposals assigning priority to 
Italy and allowing Wilson to use the 
additional amphibious lift as he saw 
fit. The JCS remained adamant, dis- 
satisfied that the British were unwill- 
ing to accept an offer of additional 
resources without making any conces- 
sions in return. The BCS, in turn, be- 
lieved that the JCS were attempting 
to force Wilson to adopt an American 
"strategy" in a theater for which the 
British had had primary responsibility 
since January. 

Churchill, taking a hand in the dis- 
cussions, proposed that the Allies 
again defer a final decision about the 
relative priority of Italy and Anvil. 
He declared that unless the United 



9 In early March 1944 the JCS and the principal 
American commanders in the Pacific had agreed on 
an accelerated program of operations in that theater 
and a concomitant cancellation of previously sched- 
uled assaults against strongly held Japanese posi- 
tions. These changes led to a reexamination of Pa- 
cific requirements and enabled the JCS to release 
from Pacific allocations amphibious resources that 
could reach the Mediterranean late in June 1944. 
See Robert Ross Smith, The Approach to the Philip- 
pines, ch. 1. 



THE DEBATE OVER SOUTHERN FRANCE 



17 



States made good its offer of addi- 
tional amphibious lift, there could be 
no choice in the Mediterranean — pri- 
ority would go to Italy by default. 

Marshall, replying for the JCS, 
pointed out that unless the Allies 
began immediate preparations for 
Anvil, there would also be no options 
in the Mediterranean. Moreover, the 
United States could not make any 
more resources available for a cam- 
paign — Italy — in which the Americans 
had no faith. If Anvil was to assist 
Overlord, Marshall argued, it would 
have to take place before the end of 
July. To meet such a target date, 
Wilson would have to release Anvil 
units from Italy by mid-May. Marshall 
estimated that Wilson could continue 
the offensive in Italy without the units 
needed for Anvil despite BCS con- 
cern over a projected infantry short- 
age there. 

On 8 April Wilson, completing 
plans for a spring offensive in Italy, 
informed the CCS that he could no 
longer wait for an Anvil decision. 
The renewed offensive in Italy would 
require his entire strength, including 
those divisions earmarked for Anvil. 
The earliest he could execute Anvil 
was probably late July, and late 
August appeared more realistic. 

Without consulting the JCS, the 
BCS directed Wilson to carry out his 
planned deployments. 10 At the same 
time, they prepared a directive for a 
general offensive in Italy, employing 
all resources available in the Mediter- 



10 Technically , the BCS did not have to consult 
with the JCS concerning the deployment directive, 
but, in light of the discussions under way, this uni- 
lateral action was unusual, especially since they fol- 
lowed with the request that the JCS concur with the 
new British directive to Wilson. 



ranean, and submitted it for JCS con- 
currence. Almost as a footnote, the 
proposed directive also instructed 
Wilson to prepare the most effective 
threat possible against southern 
France at the time of Overlord. 

Unable to obtain any commitment 
for Anvil, the JCS approved Wilson's 
new directive, but as their price they 
withdrew the offer of additional am- 
phibious lift. Although Wilson was 
thus left with scarcely enough ship- 
ping for a one-division assault, the 
JCS agreed that he could use it as he 
saw fit. To all intents and purposes, 
the latitude of Wilson's directive and 
the withdrawal of the American offer 
of amphibious lift meant the end of 
Anvil. 

For Wilson the Anvil deferral was a 
welcome relief. Aside from the ques- 
tion of amphibious lift, the decision 
ostensibly removed the competition 
between Anvil and Italy for cargo 
shipping, combat aircraft, U.S. and 
French Army divisions, and logistical 
resources. The decision also settled 
months of uncertainty regarding the 
means Wilson would have for the Ital- 
ian campaign and enabled him to 
make final preparations for his spring 
offensive, scheduled to begin about 
10 May, almost a month before Over- 
lord. 11 

Anvil Restored 

For an operation that had so few 
consistent supporters, Anvil proved 
to have remarkable staying power. 



11 For further details concerning the planning and 
execution of Wilson's spring offensive, see Ernest F. 
Fisher, Jr., Cassino to the Alps, United States Army in 
World War II (Washington, 1977). 



18 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



Wilson's new directive was but a few 
days old when both the JCS and BCS, 
perhaps motivated by a desire to heal 
wounds left from the sometimes acri- 
monious exchanges of early April, 
took still another look at the possibili- 
ties in the Mediterranean. 

After reexamining his resources late 
in April, Wilson informed the CCS 
that when his main forces had linked 
up with the Anzio beachhead, he 
could begin releasing sufficient 
strength from Italy for a major am- 
phibious operation, but not with the 
one-division assault lift left to him. 
Among other alternatives, Wilson 
proposed an invasion of southern 
France or, with an ever-ominous 
sound to the JCS, a landing at the 
head of the Adriatic. 

The BCS, studying Wilson's pro- 
posals, hinted at the possibility of a 
small-scale landing in southern 
France by the end of June, and 
Churchill suggested a descent on 
France's Atlantic coastline along the 
shores of the Bay of Biscay. Encour- 
aged, the JCS renewed their offer of 
amphibious lift from Pacific alloca- 
tions, but made it clear that they still 
favored a southern France invasion. 
In response the BCS suggested a 
number of alternative landing sites, 
including southern France, the Bay of 
Biscay, the Gulf of Genoa in north- 
western Italy, or the west coast of 
Italy between Rome and Genoa. With 
obvious regard for American sensibili- 
ties, the BCS omitted any mention of 
a landing at the head of the Adriatic, 
although such an operation had re- 
cently loomed large in BCS planning 
discussions. Preparations, they recom- 
mended, should start immediately for 
participation by American and French 



units in whatever operation the CCS 
selected. On 9 May the JCS, although 
still primarily interested in Anvil, ac- 
cepted the British proposals as the 
basis for further planning. Although 
the CCS had still been unable to 
reach a decision on the future course 
of operations in the Mediterranean, at 
least they had reopened the door to 
the possibility of Anvil sometime in 

July. 

Early in June, after the Allies had 
seized Rome earlier than expected 
and had come ashore on the Norman- 
dy beaches, the Anglo-American 
debate on Mediterranean strategy re- 
opened. Five alternative courses of 
action seemed feasible: (1) an Anvil 
landing in the Marseille-Toulon area 
followed by an exploitation north up 
the Rhone valley; (2) an Anvil land- 
ing in the Sete area, west of Marseille, 
and an exploitation northwest to Bor- 
deaux; (3) an assault in the Bay of 
Biscay area, but only after Overlord 
forces had advanced as far south as 
the Loire River; (4) an advance in 
Italy north to the Po, followed by a 
drive west into France or northeast 
into Hungary through the Ljubljana 
Gap; and (5) a landing at the head of 
the Adriatic with a subsequent exploi- 
tation northeast through the Ljubl- 
jana Gap. Both American and British 
planners agreed that the first three al- 
ternatives required halting the ad- 
vance in Italy at the Pisa-Rimini line. 

Wilson regarded a drive to the Po 
and then northeast through the Ljubl- 
jana Gap as strategically more deci- 
sive. His operational planners esti- 
mated that an advance to the Po 
would force the Germans to deploy 
ten more divisions to Italy, thereby 
relieving pressure against Eisenhower 



THE DEBATE OVER SOUTHERN FRANCE 



19 



in Normandy. Yet reaching the Po 
would also probably necessitate re- 
taining most of the divisions marked 
for Anvil. Churchill and the BCS fur- 
thermore approved continuing the of- 
fensive in Italy to the Po, but de- 
ferred a decision on whether to swing 
west from there into France or north- 
east toward Hungary. 

The JCS, while still firmly opposing 
an entry into southeastern Europe, 
had now become vitally interested in 
securing another major port to sup- 
port Eisenhower's Overlord forces. 
Although strongly favoring a landing 
in southern France, the American 
chiefs appeared willing to settle for 
the Sete-Bordeaux or Bay of Biscay 
alternatives. Whatever amphibious 
operation the Allies selected, the JCS 
insisted that it should comprise a 
three-division assault and should take 
place on or about 25 July. In addi- 
tion, they assured the British that the 
United States would make available 
most of the amphibious lift required 
for a three-division landing. 

The need to secure more ports to 
support Overlord lent a new note of 
urgency to the debate over southern 
France. The JCS had been concerned 
about the port situation since the in- 
ception of Overlord planning, be- 
lieving that the southern French ports 
would prove vital for funneling more 
Allied divisions into France, especially 
the French forces in North Africa. 
While discussing the problem with 
Wilson earlier in June, Marshall had 
pointed out that the Channel ports 
clearly lacked the capacity to support 
all the forces that the Allies planned 
to pour into France. His remarks were 
underlined shortly thereafter by a 
great storm in the Channel that se- 



verely upset Overlord unloading 
schedules and that, coupled with the 
tenacious German defense and even- 
tual destruction of Cherbourg, made 
the need for another major port to 
support the invading Allied armies 
even more obvious. 

By this time Eisenhower saw the 
original three-division Anvil concept 
as the best and most rapid method of 
securing a supplementary port. While 
hoping for an early Anvil operation, 
he believed that a landing in southern 
France would still be of considerable 
help to Overlord if undertaken 
before the end of August. If this 
target date proved impossible to 
meet, Eisenhower continued, then all 
French divisions along with one or 
two veteran American divisions from 
Italy should ultimately be shipped to 
northern France through the Channel 
ports. 

American planners quickly came to 
the conclusion that the second half of 
August was the only practicable time 
to initiate Anvil. The Channel storm 
made it impossible for Eisenhower to 
release various types of landing craft 
from Overlord supply and reinforce- 
ment runs before that time; further- 
more, because of meteorological con- 
ditions, mid-August was about the 
latest possible date for an Anvil as- 
sault. Naval planners in the Mediter- 
ranean estimated that Allied forces in 
southern France might have to be 
supported over the beaches for at 
least thirty days, that is, until the sei- 
zure and rehabilitation of the port of 
Toulon, if not Marseille as well. But 
they could not guarantee over-the- 
beach support after the mistral, the 
strong, northerly winds along the 
coast of southern France that would 



20 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



begin about 1 October. Therefore, 1 
September was the latest safe date in 
1944 for executing Anvil, and any 
earlier date would ease potential 
problems. 12 

Wilson, meanwhile, had concluded 
that if the seizure of a major port was 
the primary consideration, then Anvil 
was the best choice. The BCS, while 
reserving judgment about the need 
for another port, seemed to lean in 
mid-June toward the idea that Anvil 
might prove desirable and necessary. 
By the third week of June, the JCS 
had decided that any further delay in 
reaching a decision could only result 
in another cancellation of Anvil. Ac- 
cordingly, on the 24th the JCS recom- 
mended to the BCS that the Allies 
halt in Italy at the Gothic Line (a 
German defensive network just north 
of the Pisa-Rimini trace) and that 
Wilson launch Anvil as close to 1 
August as possible. 

Churchill, who still had his heart 
set on continuing the Italian cam- 
paign with a thrust northeast from the 
Po valley, now appealed directly to 
Roosevelt. Admitting that his propos- 
als contained political overtones, he 
maintained that political objectives 
must be taken into consideration. Al- 
though introducing little that was new 
into the debate, he forcefully repeat- 
ed all his old arguments against 
Anvil and for Italy, pleading with 
Roosevelt not to wreck one campaign 
for the sake of starting another. 

Advising the president, the JCS 
pointed out that Allied forces in Italy 



12 For a discussion of the mistral factor, see H. 
Kent Hewitt, "Planning Operation Anvil-Dragoon," 
U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, LXXX, No. 7 (July 
1954), 730-45. 



would suffer a net loss of only three 
divisions if Wilson executed Anvil 
and argued that Wilson still had 
ample strength to drive to the Po. 
The JCS were convinced that Church- 
ill's real aim was to commit major 
Allied strength to the Balkans — al- 
though the British expressly denied 
such intentions — and did not even 
comment on the British contention 
that the capacity of the Channel ports 
could be easily expanded without re- 
course to the seizure of ports on the 
Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts. 

Replying to Churchill, Roosevelt 
brought up political considerations of 
his own. He reminded the prime min- 
ister that the United States would 
hold national elections in November 
and noted rather obliquely that even 
a minor setback in the Overlord 
campaign would assure the presi- 
dent's defeat. Diverting significant 
American strength into the Balkans or 
Hungary was dangerous. Roosevelt 
also reminded Churchill that the 
Allies had promised Anvil to Stalin; 
as for Churchill's reiterated geo- 
graphical objections to Anvil, Roose- 
velt pointed out that the terrain in the 
Ljubljana Gap region was even worse 
than that along the Rhone valley. 

On 30 June the BCS backed off. 
They informed Churchill that, al- 
though they considered the Po valley- 
Hungary plan sounder, they were pre- 
pared for the sake of Anglo-American 
unity to approve Anvil. Churchill, 
fearing another impasse in the Medi- 
terranean, gave way, but could not 
resist the temptation to prophesy that 
Stalin would be pleased, for the exe- 
cution of Anvil would leave south- 
eastern Europe open to Russian 
domination. 



THE DEBATE OVER SOUTHERN FRANCE 



21 



Anvil was at last back in the Allied 
operational program. On 2 July the 
CCS directed Wilson to launch a 
three-division Anvil on 15 August, 
reinforcing the amphibious assault 
with airborne units and following up 
with French Army divisions. The mis- 
sions of the Anvil forces were to 
seize the ports of Toulon and Mar- 
seille and exploit northward to Lyon 
to support future Allied operations in 
Western Europe. Wilson was to build 
up the Anvil force to a total of at 
least ten divisions (most of them 
French) as soon as the tactical and lo- 
gistical situations in southern France 
permitted. The Allies were to throw 
into Italy all other resources left in 
the Mediterranean, and Wilson was to 
push on up the Italian peninsula as 
best he could. 

Churchill's Last Stand 

Churchill continued to view the de- 
cision with foreboding and some 
pique, feeling that the Americans had 
forced Anvil down his unwilling 
throat. Even after temporarily drop- 
ping the issue, he continued to be- 
lieve that if the Allies were to employ 
major strength west of Italy, they 
should seize a port on the Atlantic 
coast of France. Until early August 
the tactical situation in the Overlord 
lodgment area was such that Church- 
ill could make no good case for an 
Atlantic coast venture. However, after 
the Normandy breakout he resumed 
his struggle against the Anvil deci- 
sion, arguing that the landing should 
be switched to Brittany where the 
American Anvil divisions could play a 
more direct role in Overlord and 
where American reinforcements from 



across the Atlantic could be more 
easily introduced to the northern Eu- 
ropean battlefields. 

The JCS quickly scuttled these last- 
minute proposals, noting that the 
Allies had little information about the 
conditions or defenses of the Breton 
ports; that the Atlantic beaches were 
beyond effective air support range of 
Mediterranean bases; that Anvil 
would have ample air support; that 
the Allies had no plans for Atlantic 
coast operations; and that the Breton 
ports lay so much farther from Medi- 
terranean staging and supply bases 
than southern France that insoluble 
shipping problems would be created 
for both assault and follow-up eche- 
lons. The JCS could see no merit in 
abandoning a carefully planned and 
prepared operation for the sake of se- 
curing what they considered only a 
hypothetically better line of supply 
and reinforcement for Overlord. 

Stubbornly Churchill turned to Ei- 
senhower, hoping to persuade him to 
recommend cancellation of Anvil in 
favor of the Italian campaign. Judging 
that Churchill was still primarily inter- 
ested in pursuing his Hungarian and 
Balkan projects, Eisenhower evaded 
his pleas, stating that he could speak 
only from the basis of military consid- 
erations and suggesting that if the 
prime minister wanted to ground his 
arguments on political premises then 
Roosevelt was the person to ap- 
proach. Even Wilson proved of no 
real help to Churchill. Although sup- 
porting the Atlantic coast switch in 
principle, the Mediterranean com- 
mander-in-chief pointed out that the 
change would require at least a two- 
week delay in launching any assault 
by the forces already loading for 



22 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



Anvil. Churchill unhappily gave up 
his fight, but it was not until 1 1 
August, only four days before the 
scheduled date for Anvil, that the 
BCS issued Wilson a final directive to 
execute the operation. 

To the end, Churchill remained un- 
reconciled to the endeavor, termed it 
a "major strategic and political 
error," and predicted it would prove 
a "costly stalemate" and ultimately a 
"cul-de-sac," or dead-end. 13 Perhaps 
the British prime minister had good 
cause for concern. The American 
forces leading the assault had been 
fighting in Italy for over a year and 
had left the battle area only recently; 
preparations and training for the am- 
phibious landing, one of the most 
complex types of military operations, 
had been hurried and incomplete; 
and there was barely enough shipping 



Ehrman, "Grand Strategy," vol. V, 575-76. 



to send troops over the beach and 
support them. The Germans in south- 
ern France clearly outnumbered the 
initial attackers by a figure of three or 
four to one; had strongly resisted 
every other Allied attempt to land on 
the Continent; and could easily send 
reinforcements from Italy or other 
fronts if they wished. In contrast, 
many of the French units scheduled 
to follow were untested and short of 
trained personnel and equipment; no 
further Allied reinforcements from 
Italy or Great Britain could be expect- 
ed; and air support would have to be 
staged out of Corsica, nearly one 
hundred miles away. The Americans, 
Churchill feared, were taking on 
much more than they could hope to 
handle. On 15 August, as the Anvil 
landings began, he arrived in a British 
destroyer for a ringside seat at what 
many believed was one of the gravest 
Allied strategic mistakes of the war. 



CHAPTER II 

Command and Organization 



Many American leaders in the Med- 
iterranean theater did not share 
Churchill's doubts over the value of 
Anvil and its chances for success, and 
more than a few were convinced of its 
absolute necessity. If any effort had 
shown itself to be a dead end, it was 
clearly the Italian campaign where the 
difficult terrain had favored the de- 
fense and allowed a comparatively 
small number of German divisions to 
throttle the Allied advance northward 
for over a year. The temporary stale- 
mate at Normandy in June and July 
1944 only made the need for Anvil 
more pressing. Yet, considering the 
demands of the other Allied thea- 
ters — including those in the Pacific — 
for ships and aircraft, for tanks and 
artillery, and above all for trained 
manpower, the men who would put 
together and lead the Anvil assault 
and the ensuing thrust north toward 
the German heartland would have to 
be both daring and innovative. With 
the limited resources available for 
Anvil, there would be little room for 
error or second thoughts during this 
most ambitious enterprise. 

The High-Level Command Structure 
Ultimate responsibility for planning 



and launching Anvil rested with Gen- 
eral Wilson as Supreme Allied Com- 
mander, Mediterranean Theater, 
whose combined headquarters was 
known as Allied Force Headquarters 
(AFHQ). 1 The land areas under Wil- 
son's jurisdiction included northwest 
Africa, Italy, the Balkans, Turkey, 
most of the islands in the Mediterra- 
nean (except Cyprus and Malta), and 



1 Material on high-level organization for Anvil is 
based mainly on the following: Hist of AFHQ, Part 
Three, Dec 43-Jul 44, Sec. 1, Record Group 331, 
Washington National Records Center (WNRC); U.S. 
Eighth Fleet and Western Naval Task Force, "Rpt 
on Invasion of Southern France" (hereafter cited as 
WNTF Rpt Southern France), pp. 1-8, and ibid., 
Annex A, WNTF Op Plan 4-44, 24 Jul 44, corrected 
to 14 Aug 44, both in the Operational Archives, 
Naval Historical Center; and Albert F. Simpson, 
"Invasion of Southern France," ch. 12 of Wesley F. 
Craven and James L. Cate, gen. eds., Europe: Argu- 
ment to V-E Day, January 1944 to May 1945 (Chicago: 
University of Chicago Press, 1951), vol. Ill of the 
series The Army Air Forces in World War II (here- 
after cited as AAF III). Note: The official records of 
AFHQ, and SHAEF cited in the text are in the custo- 
dy of the National Archives and Records Adminis- 
tration (NARA) and are located in Record Group 
(RG) 331, and those of U.S. Army units and com- 
mands in RG 338 and 407, all under the control of 
NARA and stored at either the National Archives in 
Washington, D.C., or at the Washington National 
Records Center in Suitland, Maryland. U.S. Navy 
records cited can be found in the Operational Ar- 
chives, Naval Historical Center, Department of the 
U.S. Navy, at the Washington, D.C., Navy Yard. To 
avoid needless duplication, references to RG 331, 
338, and 407 and to the Navy Operational Archives 
have been omitted in most citations. 



24 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



southern France. 2 Wilson's deputy 
commander was Lt. Gen. Jacob L. 
Devers, an American officer who was 
also the Commanding General, North 
African Theater of Operations, U.S. 
Army (NATOUSA), the U.S. Army's 
senior administrative command in the 
Mediterranean. 3 Devers' NATOUSA 
organization functioned simultaneous- 
ly as a U.S. Army headquarters and as 
the American component of AFHQ. 
In his capacity as commanding gener- 
al of NATOUSA, Devers supervised 
the Services of Supply (SOS NA- 
TOUSA), commanded by Maj. Gen. 
Thomas B. Larkin, which was respon- 
sible for the logistical support of U.S. 
Army forces in the Mediterranean. 
General Sir Harold R. L. G. Alexan- 
der's 4 Headquarters, Allied Armies 



2 General Sir Bernard C. T. Paget, who succeeded 
Wilson in command of a reduced British Middle 
East Theater, was under Wilson's control for certain 
operational matters. Paget's area included Egypt, 
Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine. 

3 The boundaries of NATOUSA and the Allied 
Mediterranean Theater were not contiguous, for 
NATOUSA also included all French Africa, Spain, 
Portugal, Austria, and Switzerland. On 1 November 
1944, NATOUSA became MTOUSA, Mediterranean 
Theater of Operations, U.S. Army, and no longer 
had any responsibilities in southern France. 
MTOUSA boundaries were considerably diminished 
(on the north) from those of NATOUSA, and U.S. 
Army forces in southern France passed to the ad- 
ministrative control of Headquarters, European 
Theater of Operations, U.S. Army (ETOUSA). 

4 Alexander had commanded the British 18th 
Army Group in North Africa from 18 February to 
15 May 1943. On Sicily and in Italy his headquar- 
ters was known as 15th Army Group from 10 July 
1943 to 15 May 1944; as Allied Forces in Italy from 
11 to 18 January 1944; as Allied Central Mediterra- 
nean Force from 18 January to 9 March 1944; and 
as Allied Armies in Italy (AAI) from 9 March to 12 
December 1944. On 12 December 1944 Alexander 
stepped up to Wilson's position, and General Mark 
W. Clark (USA), previously the commander of the 
U.S. Fifth Army in Italy, took over command of 
Allied ground forces in Italy as Commanding Gen- 
eral, 15th Army Group. 



Italy, supported British forces in Italy, 
while Headquarters, North Africa 
District, handled British logistical 
functions in rear areas. Both logistical 
systems furnished support for other 
national forces — French, Polish, 
Greek, Yugoslavian, and Italian — with 
French requirements being met 
mainly through the Services of 
Supply, NATOUSA. 

General Alexander also exercised 
operational control over all Allied 
ground forces in Italy, but allocated 
them to either Lt. Gen. Mark W. 
Clark's U.S. Fifth Army or Lt. Gen. 
Sir Oliver W. H. Lease's British 
Eighth Army for actual employment. 
Allied forces outside Italy fell under a 
variety of smaller national commands. 
The U.S. Seventh Army headquarters, 
which was temporarily in reserve, was 
tentatively scheduled to command all 
ground forces participating in the 
Anvil assault. 

The Allied naval commander in the 
Mediterranean was Admiral Sir John 
H. D. Cunningham, who bore the 
somewhat confusing title of Com- 
mander-in-Chief, Mediterranean. 5 For 
the execution of the naval and am- 
phibious phases of Anvil, Admiral 
Cunningham created the Western 
Naval Task Force and placed this 
command under Vice Adm. Henry K. 
Hewitt (USN), who was also the com- 
mander of the U.S. Eighth Fleet. 
Hewitt integrated British, French, 
Greek, and Polish vessels into the var- 
ious subdivisions of the Western 
Naval Task Force, along with the 



5 Wilson was actually the Allied commander in 
chief in the Mediterranean, but bore the title Su- 
preme Allied Commander. Cunningham was no re- 
lation to Admiral of the Fleet Sir Andrew B. Cun- 
ningham of the BCS. 



COMMAND AND ORGANIZATION 



25 




Lt. Gen. Jacob L. Devers 



ships and landing craft of his own 
Eighth Fleet. 

Wilson's air commander was Lt. 
Gen. Ira C. Eaker. Eaker served both 
as Commander in Chief, Mediterrane- 
an Allied Air Forces (MAAF), and as 
Commanding General, U.S. Army Air 
Forces, NATOUSA, and as such was 
administratively responsible to Gener- 
al Devers at NATOUSA headquarters. 
Eaker's principal assistant for oper- 
ations was Air Marshal Sir John C. 
Slessor, who was also the administra- 
tive commander of all British air for- 
mations in the theater. 

Eaker's MAAF consisted of three 
major commands: the Mediterranean 
Allied Tactical Air Force (MATAF), 
under Maj. Gen. John K. Cannon, 
who was also Commanding General, 



U.S. Twelfth Air Force; the Mediter- 
ranean Allied Coastal Air Force, 
under Air Vice Marshal Sir Hugh P. 
Lloyd; and the Mediterranean Allied 
Strategic Air Force, under Maj. Gen. 
Nathan F. Twining, also Commanding 
General, U.S. Fifteenth Air Force. 
Each command combined both Brit- 
ish and American units; Cannon's 
MATAF, for example, consisted of 
the Twelfth Air Force (less elements 
assigned to Coastal Air Force) and 
the British Desert Air Force. Eaker's 
control over the Strategic Air Force 
was limited by the fact that Twining's 
primary operational direction came 
from the U.S. Strategic Air Force, 
based in England and commanded by 
Lt. Gen. Carl Spaatz. 

While Eaker's MAAF headquarters 
had general control and coordination 
of air support for Anvil, he delegated 
responsibility for direct air support of 
Anvil to Cannon's MATAF. Cannon, 
in turn, appointed as tactical air task 
force commander Brig. Gen. Gordon 
P. Saville, the commander of the XII 
Tactical Air Command, Twelfth Air 
Force. British and French air units re- 
inforced the XII Tactical Air Com- 
mand during Anvil, while the British 
Desert Air Force temporarily assumed 
most of the burden of air support for 
ground operations in Italy. 

Although AFHQ, was responsible 
for planning, mounting, and execut- 
ing Anvil, Allied planners knew that 
the Anvil forces would ultimately 
pass to Eisenhower's control, thereby 
unifying the command of all forces in 
northwestern Europe. No specific 
date was set for the passage of com- 
mand, but Wilson intended to make 
the change when Anvil troops had 
established physical contact with 



26 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 




Lt. Gen. Ira C. Eaker, Maj. Gen. 
John K. Cannon, General Devers, and 
Maj. Gen. Thomas B. Larkin. 

Overlord forces or when Eisenhower 
might otherwise be able to exercise 
effective control over the units 
coming north from southern France. 

The 6th Army Group and the First French 
Army 

Allied planners envisaged that 
about the time the Anvil forces 
passed to SHAEF control, an army 
group headquarters would be created 
in southern France to coordinate the 
activities of two army headquarters, 
one American and one French, which 
would be operational at the time of 
the transfer. At least indirectly, the 
French played a significant role in es- 



tablishing an army group headquar- 
ters. 6 

Under the leadership of General 
Charles de Gaulle, President of the 
French Committee of National Libera- 
tion and Chief of French Armed 
Forces, the French military leaders 
pressed for a high command position 
during Anvil. 7 De Gaulle wanted to 
regain for France the prestige lost 
during the 1940 debacle and also de- 
sired to enhance the importance of 
the Committee of National Libera- 
tion. This last aim complicated com- 
mand discussions, for de Gaulle, seek- 
ing recognition for the committee as 
France's lawful government, sought 
to have agreements concerning the 
command and employment of French 
forces consummated between the 
committee and the British and U.S. 
governments. But President Roosevelt 
refused to extend such recognition 
and persuaded the British to follow 
his lead, making agreements with the 
French only on the military level, that 
is, between de Gaulle and AFHQ. 
With little leverage at the time, de 
Gaulle was forced to accept American 
conditions, but the basic political con- 
troversy involving the legitimacy of de 
Gaulle's French government-in-exile 
remained alive throughout the war. 

When AFHQ, brought the French 
into the Anvil planning process, the 
French learned that virtually the 
entire Army of Free France would be 
employed in southern France — seven 
or eight divisions plus separate regi- 



6 The story of the French role in the formation of 
the 6th Army Group is based largely on Hamilton, 
"Southern France," ch. 6. 

7 De Gaulle's official rank was General de Brigade 
(Brigadier General), which he retained throughout 
the war. 



COMMAND AND ORGANIZATION 



27 



merits and battalions, support and 
service units, and so forth. 8 Because 
of the size of their commitment, the 
French thus proposed that a senior 
French general serve as the ground 
commander under a higher American 
or British headquarters that also had 
appropriate air and naval compo- 
nents. To further justify the request, 
they pointed out that the initial Amer- 
ican contribution to Anvil would be 
limited to less than four division 
equivalents and cited the excellent 
combat record of their forces 
in Italy — the French Expeditionary 
Corps — which had operated as part of 
the U.S. Fifth Army. Finally, they 
pointed out that many of their troops 
had intimate knowledge of the terrain 
of southern France and that French 
guerrilla forces in the Anvil area 
might rally more enthusiastically to 
French leadership than to American. 

American military leaders, as might 
be expected, rejected the French pro- 
posals, and compromise came gradu- 
ally. When Wilson pointed out that 
the French, with almost no experience 
in amphibious warfare, could play 
little part in the initial assault, de 
Gaulle agreed that the landings 
should be under American command. 
However, after the amphibious assault 
phase had ended, the French leader 
recommended that an army group 
headquarters be established to con- 
trol the operations of two separate 
armies, one French and the other 
American, both advancing northward 
side by side. Wilson felt that this was 



8 In the end, the French 2d Armored Division was 
shipped to northern France and for a time became 
part of Lt. Gen. George S. Patton's U.S. Third 
Army. 



reasonable, but at first feared that the 
French would demand control of the 
army group headquarters. However, 
further talks revealed that de Gaulle 
and his generals were willing to settle 
for an independent army command, 
even under an American army group 
commander. Although favorable to 
such a command arrangement, Wil- 
son felt that a second army headquar- 
ters should not be inserted so early. 
Instead he supported an interim 
phase between the end of the assault 
and the establishment of an army 
group headquarters, during which an 
American army headquarters would 
control three corps — two French and 
one American. 

De Gaulle was not satisfied with 
what he considered Wilson's equivo- 
cal position, and about 20 April he 
unilaterally appointed General Jean 
de Lattre de Tassigny as the com- 
mander of all French ground forces 
participating in Anvil. This step 
brought another army headquarters 
into the picture, for de Gaulle had 
previously made de Lattre the com- 
mander of Army B, a headquarters 
that the French had organized espe- 
cially for Anvil. De Gaulle also ap- 
pointed de Lattre as his personal rep- 
resentative to AFHQ, for all matters 
pertaining to French participation in 
Anvil. 

Faced with this fait accompli, Wilson 
worked out a compromise. De Lattre, 
he informed de Gaulle, would tempo- 
rarily assume command of the first 
French corps ashore in southern 
France, but would have to take orders 
from the commander of the U.S. Sev- 
enth Army. When the second French 
corps reached France, de Lattre 
would then assume command of 



28 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



Army B, later to be redesignated the 
First French Army, but would remain 
under the direction of the American 
army commander. The U.S. Seventh 
Army would, in effect, assume a dual 
role as an army and an army group 
headquarters. 

The aim of this arrangement was to 
keep top control of civil affairs, troop 
and supply priorities, and major tacti- 
cal decisions in American hands, and 
to ease coordination with Eisenhow- 
er's SHAEF forces. The solution lim- 
ited French authority and placed a 
French full general under an Ameri- 
can lieutenant general. Nevertheless, 
late in May de Gaulle declared him- 
self satisfied with the command ar- 
rangements as long as de Lattre could 
retain all other prerogatives of an 
army-level commander. 

During the following month British 
and American planners elaborated 
further on the projected command ar- 
rangements. By this time they had 
also concluded that an army group 
headquarters separate from the Sev- 
enth Army would ultimately be 
needed in southern France. 9 A reex- 
amination of command and control 



9 Subsequent information on the organization of 
HQ_ 6th Army Group is from Radio Message (Rad), 
Devers to Marshall, B-13268, 2 Jul 44, CM-IN 
2311; Rad, Marshall to Devers, WAR-59986, 3 Jul 
44, CM-OUT 59986; Rad, Devers to Marshall, B- 
13568, 13 Jul 44, CM-IN 10443; Rad, Marshall to 
Eisenhower, WAR-64371, 13 Jul 44, CM-OUT 
64371; Rad, Eisenhower to Marshall, S-55590, 15 
Jul 44, CM-IN 12455; Rad, Marshall to Devers, 
WARX-66124, 16 Jul 44, CM-OUT 66124; and Ltr, 
Eisenhower to Marshall, no sub, 12 Jul 44. All in 
OPD file 381, RG 165, WNRC. Rad, Devers to Maj. 
Gen. Lowell W. Rooks, D/Cofs AFHQ, B-13160, 28 
Jun 44, as quoted in Hamilton, "Southern France," 
ch. 9, p. 32; Hist Sec, 6th Army Group, "A History 
of the Sixth Army Group," ch. 1; and G-3 6th Army 
Gp, Final Rpt G-3 Section HQ, 6th Army Group 
World War II (copy in CMH), ch. 1. 



problems expected in southern 
France indicated that the combined 
command of the Seventh Army and 
Army B, the First French Army, 
would eventually place intolerable 
burdens on the American army com- 
mander and his staff. Another 
thought, shared by Wilson and 
Devers, was that Clark's Fifth Army 
might ultimately drive up the west 
coast of Italy and swing west to join 
the Seventh Army in France. It was il- 
logical to think that Patch's army 
headquarters could coordinate the 
operations of three separate armies. 
Finally, the establishment of an army 
group headquarters in southern 
France would parallel the command 
system developed in northern France, 
where Eisenhower had two army 
groups under his command. Thus, 
when Anvil and Overlord forces 
joined, Eisenhower would receive an- 
other army group with generally simi- 
lar command arrangements. 

Early in July, Wilson took a prelimi- 
nary step toward the formation of an 
army group headquarters when he de- 
cided to set up the Advanced Detach- 
ment AFHQ, on Corsica during the 
Anvil assault phase. Under the com- 
mand of Wilson's chief deputy, 
Devers, this detachment was to pro- 
vide liaison between AFHQ, and the 
Seventh Army headquarters; aid 
coordination between the Fifth and 
Seventh Armies; and recommend pri- 
orities for air and naval support be- 
tween Allied forces in Italy and those 
in southern France. 

Devers informed General Marshall 
of the plans for the Advanced Detach- 
ment AFHQ, suggested that the de- 
tachment could readily be expanded 
into an army group headquarters, and 



COMMAND AND ORGANIZATION 



29 



requested that he, Devers, be consid- 
ered for the post of army group com- 
mander. Subsequently he added that 
Wilson also favored the formation of 
an army group headquarters and 
would support his appointment to 
command it. 

Realizing that the proposed head- 
quarters would ultimately come under 
the authority of SHAEF, Marshall 
sought Eisenhower's views on the 
matter. As the American chief of staff, 
Marshall thought highly of Devers, 
but knew that Eisenhower might have 
certain misgivings over the selec- 
tion. 10 Eisenhower and Devers had, in 
fact, been rivals. Both had graduated 
from the U.S. Military Academy at 
West Point, and, although Devers had 
entered active service several years 
earlier than Eisenhower, the latter 
was now his superior in rank by one 
grade. Although neither had seen 
combat service in World War I, both 
had risen to high positions by the 
time the United States entered the 
current conflict: Devers as chief of the 
Armored Force, Fort Knox, Kentucky, 
and Eisenhower as the Assistant Chief 
of Staff for operations on Marshall's 
staff. Subsequently Eisenhower, as 
Commanding General, European 
Theater of Operations, U.S. Army, 
had commanded American and Allied 
forces during the invasion of North 
Africa and the ensuing campaigns in 
Tunisia, Sicily, and Italy, while Devers 



10 For a discussion of the command proposals and 
appointments, see Forrest C. Pogue, George C. Mar- 
shall: Organizer of the Victory, 1943-1945 (New York: 
Viking, 1973), pp. 370-78, and especially Cbl, Ei- 
senhower to Marshall, 25 Dec 43, in The Papers of 
Dwight David Eisenhower: The War Years, III, ed. 
Alfred D. Chandler, Jr. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 
1970), 161 1-15 (hereafter cited as Eisenhower Papers). 



had concentrated on the task of orga- 
nizing, equipping, and training the 
vast armored force that Marshall 
wanted to put in the field. In May 
1943 Marshall had named Devers 
commander of the European Theater 
of Operations, U.S. Army (ETOUSA), 
and Devers had been one of Mar- 
shall's leading candidates to head an 
Overlord army group command at 
some future date. Eisenhower, howev- 
er, following his appointment as Su- 
preme Commander, Allied Expedi- 
tionary Corps, in December 1944, 
had successfully pushed Lt. Gen. 
Omar Bradley for the post and had 
subsequently persuaded Marshall to 
move both Devers and Eaker, then 
the U.S. Eighth Air Force command- 
er, to the Mediterranean Theater. Si- 
multaneously he requested many 
other officers who had served under 
him in North Africa and Italy, such as 
Patton, for combat commands in 
Overlord. Marshall felt that Eisen- 
hower was trying to pack SHAEF with 
his own supporters, but also found it 
natural that Eisenhower would prefer 
commanders he was already familiar 
with and trusted thoroughly. 

For the moment, Marshall's con- 
cerns over the nomination of Devers 
appeared unjustified. On 12 July Ei- 
senhower approved the idea of an 
army group headquarters for south- 
ern France as well as Marshall's ap- 
pointment of Devers to head the new 
command. Although admitting at the 
time that he had entertained serious 
doubts about Devers' ability in the 
past, Eisenhower explained that they 
had been "based completely upon im- 
pressions and, to some extent, upon 
vague references in this theater . . . 
[which] never had any basis in posi- 



30 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



tive information," and that, based on 
Devers' record in the Mediterranean, 
he would accept the decision "cheer- 
fully and willingly." 11 But Eisenhower 
must also have known that Devers 
was eager to have a combat command 
and that his appointment would fur- 
ther ensure that Anvil took place as 
scheduled, thus promising relief for 
the beleaguered forces under Eisen- 
hower's command in Normandy. This 
matter settled, on 16 July Marshall 
made the appointment official and di- 
rected Devers to proceed with the 
formation of the army group head- 
quarters. 

In the end, Devers wore four hats 
at the time of the Anvil assault. He 
was Deputy Supreme Allied Com- 
mander, Mediterranean Theater; 
Commanding General, NATOUSA; 
Commander, Advanced Detachment 
AFHQ, which was activated on Corsi- 
ca on 29 July, and Commanding Gen- 
eral, 6th Army Group, the headquar- 
ters of which Devers activated on 1 
August. But at first the 6th Army 
Group headquarters consisted of only 
the personnel of the Advanced De- 
tachment AFHQ, and, for reasons of 
security, retained the detachment 
title. 

The new arrangements made little 
practical difference in the chain of 
command for Anvil. Devers' Ad- 
vanced Detachment headquarters on 
Corsica functioned primarily as a liai- 
son and coordinating agency, and had 
no command or operational duties 



11 For quotes see Ltr, Eisenhower to Marshall, 12 
Jul 44, and Cbl, S55590, Eisenhower to Marshall, 15 
Jul 44, both in Eisenhower Papers, III, 2000 and 2009- 
10. The second communication was actually 
prompted by information supplied by General 
Spaatz on the projected Devers appointment. 



during the assault phase. Initially, 
ground command of the Anvil forces 
remained the responsibility of the 
Seventh Army, while the 6th Army 
Group headquarters went about the 
task of preparing itself for the day it 
would become operational in France. 

Force 163 and the Seventh Army 

From the beginning of Anvil plan- 
ning, responsibility for producing a 
theater-level program to coordinate 
the planning of subordinate head- 
quarters rested with the AFHQ, Joint 
Planning Staff, which included repre- 
sentatives of AFHQ, Cunningham's 
naval headquarters, and MAAF. 12 But 
the Joint Planning Staff became so 
preoccupied with Italy that, after pro- 
ducing draft Anvil plans in late 1943, 
it left the burden of Anvil planning 
to the Seventh Army staff, temporari- 
ly based on Sicily. In December 1943, 
at Eisenhower's request, the War De- 
partment officially made the Seventh 
Army headquarters available to 
AFHQ, for planning, preparing, and 
executing Anvil. 

By December 1943 the Seventh 
Army, commanded by Lt. Gen. 
George S. Patton, consisted of a skel- 
eton headquarters and a few service 
units. Patton was scheduled to leave 
for England in January 1944, and 
AFHQ, had tentatively decided that 
General Clark, then commanding the 



12 This subsection is based primarily on the fol- 
lowing: Hamilton, "Southern France," chs. 1-4, 6, 
and 9; Historical Section, Headquarters, Seventh 
Army, Report on Operations: The Seventh United States 
Army in France and Germany, 1944-1945, 3 vols. (Hei- 
delberg: Aloys Graf, 1946) (hereafter cited as Seventh 
Army Rpt), I, 1-49; and Official Diary, Headquarters, 
Force 163, 10 Jan-15 Aug 44, RG 338, WNRC. 



COMMAND AND ORGANIZATION 



31 



U.S. Fifth Army in Italy, would be the 
Seventh Army's commander for 
Anvil. During Anvil preparations, 
Clark would remain in Italy and leave 
a deputy in charge of Anvil planning. 
After the capture of Rome, or during 
some suitable lull in the Italian cam- 
paign, he would leave Fifth Army and 
devote his full attention to Anvil. 

The presence of Seventh Army 
headquarters on Sicily probably 
served as a useful deception, but in 
view of the fact that the other major 
headquarters concerned with Anvil 
were located in North Africa, Sicily 
was not the place to undertake Anvil 
planning. AFHQ, therefore directed 
Seventh Army to move a small plan- 
ning staff to Algiers, where details 
could be worked out with air, naval, 
and AFHQ, planners. But a large part 
of the Seventh Army staff remained 
on Sicily to continue deception oper- 
ations, and AFHQ, took precautions 
to prevent identification of the Al- 
giers planning group with the staff on 
Sicily. Air and naval planners as- 
signed to help with the activities at 
Algiers were also separated from their 
parent headquarters. Force 163, as 
the Algiers planning group became 
known, opened on 12 January 1944; 
and Rear Force 163, a small group of 
logistical planners, set up on 27 Janu- 
ary at Oran, the location of Head- 
quarters, Services of Supply, NA- 
TOUSA, and also of the U.S. Eighth 
Fleet's principal supply activity. 

Force 163 soon grew into a joint 
and combined planning headquarters. 
Capt. Robert A. J. English (USN), 
from Admiral Hewitt's staff, was the 
chief naval planner; Group Capt. R. 
B. Lees (RAAF) represented MATAF; 
Brig. Gen. Garrison H. Davidson, for- 



merly the Engineer, Seventh Army, 
was commander of the U.S. Army 
component; and Brig. Gen. Benjamin 
F. Caffey, Jr., Clark's planning deputy 
for Anvil, presided over the whole 
assemblage. In March a small French 
contingent under Col. Jean L. Petit 
joined Force 163. Petit had virtually 
no powers of decision, but acted 
more as a liaison officer between 
Force 163 and various French head- 
quarters. It was not until early June, 
when representatives of the First 
French Army, the French Air Force, 
and the French Navy joined Force 
163, that planning for French partici- 
pation became thoroughly integrated. 
Col. Andre Demetz, the G-3 of the 
First French Army, became the chief 
French planner, and his group ab- 
sorbed Colonel Petit's staff. 

Through January and February 
1944, a confusion in command rela- 
tionships bedeviled the planning staff. 
General Caffey found himself in a 
somewhat anomalous position — he 
was Clark's representative but was not 
a member of the Seventh Army staff. 
Ill health further crippled his influ- 
ence. Moreover, Patton retained com- 
mand of the Seventh Army until his 
departure for England in January. 
Brig. Gen. Hobart R. Gay, Patton's 
chief of staff, replaced Patton but left 
for England himself in February, as 
did a number of key staff officers 
Patton had selected to take with him. 
Command of both Force 163 and the 
residual Seventh Army staff was then 
assumed by General Davidson, and a 
few days later General Caffey was 
transferred to AFHQ.-NATOUSA, 
leaving Davidson as the senior officer 
at Force 163. 

AFHQ, had expected that Clark 



32 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 




Lt. Gen. Alexander M. Patch 



would be able to take over Seventh 
Army and Force 163 sometime in 
mid-March 1944, but the difficulties 
in Italy following the landings at 
Anzio made this impossible. On 15 
February, accordingly, Wilson re- 
lieved Clark of further responsibility 
for Anvil. A new ground force com- 
mander was needed, and Maj. Gen. 
Alexander M. Patch, slated to be pro- 
moted in August, had just reached 
the Mediterranean theater. 

By the time of General Patch's ar- 
rival, he had already compiled an im- 
pressive military career that stretched 
back to the American frontier wars. 
Born at Fort Huachuca, Arizona Ter- 
ritory, in 1889, the son of an officer 
in the 4th Cavalry, he graduated from 
West Point in 1913, a classmate of 



Patton; served in Brig. Gen. John J. 
Pershing's expedition into Mexico; 
and then commanded an infantry bat- 
talion in the 1st Infantry Division 
during World War I. During the in- 
terwar years his career, like that of his 
contemporaries, alternated between 
military schools, teaching posts, and 
other routine peacetime assignments. 
But early in 1942 General Marshall 
selected Patch to command a hastily 
assembled Army task force headed for 
the South Pacific. Quickly transform- 
ing that force into the Americal Divi- 
sion, Patch took it to the island of 
Guadalcanal in December 1942 and, 
as commander of the U.S. Army XIV 
Corps, led a force of one Marine 
Corps and two Army divisions that fi- 
nally rooted out the island's stubborn 
Japanese defenders by the following 
February. At Marshall's request Patch 
then returned to the United States to 
train American troops in desert war- 
fare as head of the newly organized 
IV Corps. By the time Patch brought 
his new IV Corps staff to the Mediter- 
ranean in early 1944, the desert cam- 
paign had long since ended. Marshall, 
however, had a new post in mind for 
Patch and, with the approval of 
Devers, appointed him commander of 
the Seventh Army (and automatically 
of Force 163) on 2 March. 13 

Patch immediately began rebuilding 
the depleted army staff with officers 
and men from the IV Corps head- 
quarters, and gradually enlarged the 
planning groups at Algiers and Oran 



13 For background, see Truman R. Strobridge and 
Bernard C. Nalty, "From the South Pacific to the 
Brenner Pass: General Alexander M. Patch," Military 
Review, LXI (June 1981), 41-47, and John Miller, jr.', 
Guadalcanal: The First Offensive, United States Army in 
World War II (Washington, 1949). 



COMMAND AND ORGANIZATION 



33 




From left to right: General Patch, Air Marshal Sir John C. Slessor, General 
Devers, General Sir Henry Maitland Wilson, with map, and Maj. Gen. Lowell W. Rooks. 



with more personnel from the Sev- 
enth Army staff. 14 In May he terminat- 
ed the Seventh Army establishment 
on Sicily and in early July moved the 
Oran and Algiers planners to Naples, 
where Force 163 dropped its nom de 
guerre and the Seventh Army head- 
quarters made its final Anvil prepara- 
tions as a united staff. At approxi- 
mately the same time, the Western 
Naval Task Force headquarters also 
moved to Naples, as did some of the 
air planners. The MATAF air staff di- 



14 The IV Corps remained in existence and fought 
in Italy with Maj. Gen. Willis D. Crittenberger as its 
commander. After Patch took over the Seventh 
Army and Force 163, General Davidson became the 
Engineer, Task Force 163-Seventh Army. 



vided in two, one part remaining in 
Italy and the other moving to Corsica, 
where the bulk of the XII Tactical Air 
Command had been concentrated 
during July. Meanwhile, from March 
to July 1944, the concerned staffs 
completed most of the Anvil plan- 
ning under Patch's leadership. By the 
end, Patch had earned the respect of 
his fellow commanders as a steady if 
quiet leader and a professional sol- 
dier's general, who was more at home 
with his own staff and troops than 
with outsiders and less concerned 
with the prerogatives of command 
than with getting the job done. 

Between March and July 1944 
Devers and Patch had thus become 
the primary movers within the theater 



34 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



behind the continued Franco-Ameri- 
can planning for the Anvil assault 
and the ensuing drive north, even 
after the CCS had canceled the entire 
project. While Patch and his army 
staff devoted themselves to the more 
detailed planning, Devers, in his ca- 
pacity as deputy theater commander 
and commanding general of NA- 
TOUSA, labored behind the scene to 



see that the supply buildup for Anvil 
did not dissipate between April and 
June, when Anvil was in all respects 
officially dead. As a. result, its resur- 
rection in July for implementation in 
August — barely one month later — was 
a practicable if hurried affair. Without 
the strong support of Devers and 
Patch, it is doubtful that Anvil could 
ever have taken place. 



CHAPTER III 



Planning for Invasion 



Despite the constantly changing 
fortunes of Anvil in the higher Allied 
councils, planning for the operation 
continued at lower echelons almost 
without interruption throughout 
1944. The long strategic debate, of 
course, created major problems. For 
example, in January 1944 when Anvil 
planning staffs first assembled, they 
had no idea of the size and composi- 
tion of the assault force; and the thea- 
ter headquarters had allocated no 
troops for the endeavor, established 
no command organization, assigned 
no shipping or amphibious lift, and 
designated no staging or training 
areas. No decision had even been 
made concerning the specific assault 
area, and, without a definite oper- 
ational directive, no foundation exist- 
ed on which to make logistical requi- 
sitions. Moreover, as the fortunes of 
Anvil waxed and waned, planners 
found it necessary to draw up a varie- 
ty of invasion scenarios, including a 
one-division "threat"; a one-, two-, or 
three-division amphibious assault; and 
a semiadministrative landing — each 
under different estimates of German 
resistance in southern France. In the 
end, planners had to act on differing 
assumptions and, until July 1944, had 
little concrete information on which 



to base detailed tactical and oper- 
ational plans. Despite these difficul- 
ties the staffs associated with the 
Anvil effort had done their home- 
work well enough by this time to 
mesh their preliminary plans quickly 
with the actual requirements and 
assets available. 

The Main Assault Force 

Probably the most serious problem 
that Force 163-Seventh Army faced 
during the planning for Anvil was as- 
certaining the size and composition of 
the assault force. Of the two, size 
proved the more challenging, and the 
inability of the Allied leaders to agree 
on this matter seriously inhibited de- 
tailed tactical and logistical planning 
and organization. For composition, 
planners employed the "division 
slice" concept — an infantry or ar- 
mored division with its normal sup- 
porting combat and service force at- 
tachments. But until the number of 
divisions participating in both the as- 
sault and the operations that immedi- 
ately followed was determined, it was 
impossible for tactical planners to es- 
timate the number and type of sup- 
porting forces needed. 

The earliest planning assumptions, 



36 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



dating from the CCS conferences of 
late 1943, called for a two-division as- 
sault with an ultimate buildup to ten 
divisions. 1 The plan Eisenhower pre- 
pared in December 1943 called for a 
three-division assault and was also 
used by Force 163 planners. In Feb- 
ruary 1944 Wilson instructed Force 
163 to assume that the main assault 
would consist of two divisions, with a 
third coming ashore in a quick follow- 
up. This concept governed tactical 
planning until July, when the CCS re- 
instated the three-division assault. 

In December 1943 General Clark, 
who was then still in the planning pic- 
ture, had proposed to AFHQ, that the 
assault force include Headquarters, 
U.S. VI Corps, the 3d and 45th Infan- 
try Divisions, and the 1st Armored 
Division, all in Italy at the time. Clark 
had selected units experienced in am- 
phibious warfare, and he expected 
that they would be replaced in Italy 
by divisions scheduled to come from 
the United States in the spring of 
1944. Headquarters, VI Corps, and 
the two infantry divisions remained 
constants in all subsequent planning 
for Anvil, but Wilson decided that he 
would have to keep the 1st Armored 
Division in Italy, leaving the Seventh 
Army to depend on French armored 
divisions during the early phases of 
Anvil. Force 163, which had been 
planning for a two-division assault 
with an early one-division follow-up, 
substituted the 85th Infantry Division 
for the 1st Armored Division and as- 
signed the 85th the follow-up role. 
Training at the time in North Africa, 
the 85th Division would have combat 



'This subsection is based primarily on Hamilton, 
"Southern France," chs. 1-4, 6, and 9-11. 



experience in Italy before Anvil. 

Toward late February 1944 Wilson 
announced that Anvil could be 
launched in mid-June if the CCS ap- 
proved and confirmed the selection of 
assault units. AFHQ, began prepara- 
tions to relieve the U.S. VI Corps 
headquarters and the U.S. 3d and 
45th Infantry Divisions from the lines 
in Italy between 1 and 15 April, and 
to replace them with fresh units from 
the United States. However, in mid- 
April, the combined pressures from 
Overlord and Italy forced another 
cancellation of Anvil, and tactical 
planning slowed until its reinstate- 
ment in June. 

By 15 June, Wilson was sure that 
some major amphibious operation 
would take place in the Mediterrane- 
an and accordingly directed the VI 
Corps headquarters and the 45th Di- 
vision to pull out of the lines in Italy 
at once, followed by the 3d Division 
on the 1 7th. With indications growing 
clearer that there would be a three-di- 
vision assault, Wilson further ordered 
that the 36th Infantry Division, which 
also had amphibious experience, be 
relieved in Italy by 27 June and re- 
place the 85th Division as the third 
major element of the assault force. 

The three American infantry divi- 
sions were organized along standard 
wartime lines. Each division had three 
infantry regiments, and each regiment 
had three infantry battalions of about 
800 to 900 men apiece. Also organic 
to each division were three medium 
(105-mm.) and one heavy (155-mm.) 
howitzer battalion (of twelve tubes 
each) and supporting . cavalry (one 
company-sized troop), engineer, 
signal, quartermaster, medical, and 
other service elements. In addition, 



PLANNING FOR INVASION 



37 



the infantry regiments had mortars, 
one battery of lightweight howitzers, 
and an antitank battery. These forces 
were also accompanied by the sup- 
porting combat, combat support, and 
service units that had for the most 
part long served with the divisions. 
Normally attached to each division 
were one tank battalion (of one light 
and three medium tank companies 
with fifteen tanks each), one tank de- 
stroyer battalion (75-mm. or 3-inch 
guns, self-propelled or towed pieces, 
with three twelve-gun companies), 
one antiaircraft artillery battalion, and 
one or two corps artillery battalions. 
The corps headquarters controlled 
additional supporting elements as 
well as its own independent mecha- 
nized cavalry squadron. Aside from 
the infantry battalions, all units of the 
corps and divisions were motorized in 
some fashion. 

Almost all of these forces had 
served together for many months 
during the Italian campaign, and thus 
constituted an experienced team. The 
3d Division had entered combat in 
North Africa in late 1942 and, along 
with both the VI Corps and the 45th 
Division, had fought in Sicily, Sa- 
lerno, and Anzio in 1943, and partici- 
pated in the drive on Rome during 
the following year. The 36th, only 
slightly younger, had begun its jour- 
ney at Salerno in mid- 1943 and ar- 
rived in Rome with the others after 
many grueling battles. In combat, the 
infantry divisions had formed closely 
knit regimental combat teams, each 
with an infantry regiment, a medium 
artillery battalion, and attached 
armor, engineer, and signal units. 
Tailored by the division commanders 
to serve as semi-independent battle 



groups, these units had acquired a 
degree of battlefield expertise that 
made them potentially much more ef- 
fective than the American Overlord 
forces, many of which were entering 
combat for the first time. Neverthe- 
less, all of the U.S. Anvil units were 
tired, fairly worn out by the continu- 
ous uphill fighting in Italy, and due 
for a rest. But little time was available 
for such pursuits. The 45th Division 
reached its staging area in Naples on 
17 June and was soon followed by the 
VI Corps headquarters and the other 
participants. Preparations for their 
new mission began almost immediate- 

For Anvil, the VI Corps would be 
commanded by Maj. Gen. Lucian 
Truscott; the 3d Division, by Maj. 
Gen. John E. "Iron Mike" O'Daniel; 
the 45th, by Maj. Gen. William W. 
Eagles; and the 36th, by Maj. Gen. 
John E. Dahlquist. Of Truscott and 
his three division commanders, only 
Eagles was a graduate of West Point, 
and only O'Daniel had served in 
France during World War I. But more 
important, all were about the same 
age, forty-eight to fifty years old, and 
all were long-term career officers. In 
fact, three of the four had worked 
closely together for nearly a year and 
a half: Truscott had commanded the 
3d Division from March 1943 to Janu- 
ary 1944, when he became the deputy 
VI Corps commander at Anzio, taking 
over the corps one month later; 
O'Daniel had served as Truscott's 
deputy division commander and had 
taken over the 3d after Truscott's de- 
parture; and Eagles had been Trus- 
cott's assistant division commander 
before assuming command of the 
45th Division in November 1943. 



38 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



Only Dahlquist was not a member of 
Truscott's original team. Taking com- 
mand of the 36th Division after its 
withdrawal from the Italian campaign, 
he had no combat experience and had 
the difficult task of turning around 
the 36th's reputation as a "hard luck" 
division, one that had suffered heavy 
casualties at San Pietro in December 
1943 as well as during the Rapido 
River crossing one month later. 2 

Supporting Assault Forces 

From the earliest discussions of 
Anvil, Allied planners had wanted 
airborne support for the amphibious 
assault but had no idea what airborne 
forces would be available. 3 By May 
1944, AFHQ, and Force 163 had de- 
cided that nothing less than a full air- 
borne division was needed, but Allied 
airborne strength in the Mediterrane- 
an was limited to a British parachute 
brigade group, an understrength 
French parachute regiment, an Ameri- 



2 Intervs, Col Robert F. Ensslin with Gen Theo- 
dore J. Conroy, 29 Sep 77, pp. 6-7 (hereafter cited 
as Conroy Interv), Senior Officer Debriefing Pro- 
gram, Theodore J. Conroy Papers, MHI; Col Irving 
Monclava and Lt Col Marlin Lang with Gen Paul 
Dewitt Adams, 5-9 May 75, p. 54 (hereafter cited as 
Adams Interv), Senior Officer Debriefing Program, 
Paul D. Adams Papers, MHI. Adams, a former regi- 
mental and assistant division commander in the 
36th Division, confirmed the problem and also 
noted that the 141st regiment had gone through a 
series of commanders in Italy and appeared to be 
the black sheep of the division. 

3 Additional material on the airborne force is from 
the following: G-3 AFHQ, Rpt on A/B Opns in 
Dragoon, pp. 1-9; 2d Ind, HQ. 1st ABTF, 22 Oct 
44, to Ltr, CG NATOUSA to CG 1st ABTF, 8 Oct 
44, sub: Rpt on A/B Opns in Dragoon, attached to 
G-3 AFHQ, Rpt in A/B Opns, in Dragoon; and 1st 
ABTF FO 1, 5 Aug 44. While the text employs only 
the code name Anvil, the second code name, Dra- 
goon, is used in the footnotes, depending on the 
source cited. 



can parachute battalion, and two bat- 
teries of American parachute field 
artillery. Language problems and in- 
sufficient training ruled out the 
French unit, leaving Force 163 with 
only an unbalanced Anglo-American 
parachute regimental combat team. 

In May and June airborne rein- 
forcements reached Italy from the 
United States — a parachute regimen- 
tal combat team, another parachute 
battalion, and a glider infantry battal- 
ion. AFHQ and Seventh Army also 
put together a full battalion of para- 
chute field artillery; converted a 75- 
mm. pack howitzer battalion to a 
glider unit; trained two 4.2-inch 
mortar companies for glider oper- 
ations; and transformed the antitank 
company of the Japanese-American 
442d Infantry regiment into a glider 
unit. Devers' NATOUSA staff also ar- 
ranged training for various small en- 
gineer, signal, and medical detach- 
ments participating in the airborne 
operation. In the end, the total of 
parachute and glider units approxi- 
mated a full airborne division, and on 
12 July the Seventh Army named the 
new organization the Seventh Army 
Airborne Division (Provisional), 
changing its formal title a week later 
to the 1st Airborne Task Force. Maj. 
Gen. Robert T. Frederick, formerly 
the commander of the renowned 1st 
Special Service Force (an American- 
Canadian commando unit), became 
commander of the new airborne force 
and began assembling it near Rome 
in July. 4 



"Major elements of the 1st Airborne Task Force 
were the British 2d Independent Parachute Brigade; 
the 517th Parachute Infantry (Regiment); the 1st 
Battalion, 551st Parachute Infantry; the 509th Para- 
chute Infantry Battalion; and the 550th Airborne In- 



PLANNING FOR INVASION 



39 




Maj. Gen. Robert T. Frederick 



The next problem was finding the 
airlift to employ Frederick's force. In 
early June 1944, AFHQhad under its 
control only two troop carrier groups 
and 160 gliders. Eisenhower made 
available two troop carrier wings and 
approximately 375 glider pilots from 
the IX Troop Carrier Command in 
England; in addition, some 350 glid- 
ers arrived in the Mediterranean from 
the United States in July. The whole 
assemblage was organized into the 
Provisional Troop Carrier Air Divi- 
sion under Maj. Gen. Paul L. Wil- 
liams, the commander of the IX 



fantry Battalion (Glider). All were supported by the 
460th and 463d Parachute Field Artillery Battalions; 
the 602d Field Artillery Battalion (75-mm. pack); 
the British 64th Light Artillery Battalion; as well as 
other elements. 



Troop Carrier Command, which had 
gained ample experience during 
Overlord. 

The list of other assault units in- 
cluded ranger and commando forces 
assigned special missions. The largest 
was the 1st Special Service Force, ap- 
proximately 2,060 men under Col. 
Edwin A. Walker (USA). This force, 
which had been in combat under the 
VI Corps in Italy, reached the Salerno 
area for final training on 3 July. 
There were also two French comman- 
do units: the African Commando 
Group of some 850 men under Lt. 
Col. Georges Regis Bouvet, arid the 
67-man Naval Assault Group, com- 
manded by Captaine de Fregate 
(Commander) Seriot. 

Force 163-Seventh Army also en- 
countered problems with the major 
follow-up forces for Anvil — the 
combat echelons of the First French 
Army. 5 The demands of the Italian 
campaign before the capture of Rome 
in June made it virtually impossible for 
AFHQ, to set a date for the release of 
the French Expeditionary Corps from 
Italy. The debate over the question of 
command likewise helped postpone 
assignment of French forces until late 
May. In addition, a long-standing dis- 
agreement over the size and composi- 
tion of the rebuilding French Army, 



5 Additional information on French units is from 
Marcel Vigneras, Rearming the French, United States 
Army in World War II (Washington, 1958), chs. 7- 
10, and Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, The History of the 
French First Army, trans. Malcolm Barnes (London: 
Allen and Unwin, 1952), chs. 1-3 (hereafter cited as 
de Lattre, History). The original French language 
version, published as Histoire de la Premiere Armee 
Francaise (Paris: Plon, 1949), has also been consult- 
ed, but cited only in reference to de Lattre's key 
operational orders that are omitted in the English 
translation. 



40 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



largely equipped by the United States, 
proved a delaying factor. Because of 
their limited manpower resources, the 
French wanted to form ground combat 
units exclusively, while the Americans 
wanted them to establish a balanced 
force with the appropriate number of 
supporting service units. Still feeling 
the impact of the disastrous 1940 cam- 
paign, the French generals felt that 
honor demanded that they put their 
manpower into fighting units; in addi- 
tion, they believed that their army did 
not require what they considered the 
luxurious service support enjoyed by 
American forces. More to the point, 
the French military manpower consist- 
ed primarily of colonial levees drawn 
from north and central Africa — person- 
nel who lacked technical skills and were 
often functionally illiterate. Thus until 
the French military were able to tap the 
manpower resources of the metropole, 
they found it extremely difficult to 
form the technical service organiza- 
tions necessary to sustain their combat 
forces. 

Despite these difficulties, the Allies 
insisted that the French establish at 
least a minimal combat support base. 
Since the entire French rearmament 
process depended on Allied and espe- 
cially American largess, the French had 
little choice. In mid-February 1944, 
they accordingly agreed to limit their 
major combat units to eight divisions, 
including_J;hree armored, to which 
were added separate combat organiza- 
tions such as light infantry regiments, 
commandos, tank destroyer battalions, 
reconnaissance formations, and field 
artillery battalions. 6 Their remaining 



6 De Lattre, History, p. 28, states that the French 
Committee of National Liberation agreed to the 



manpower went into service units, but 
the French high command was never 
able to organize enough to provide the 
First French Army with all the support 
it required. 

Of the major French units assigned 
to Anvil, the French 1st Infantry Divi- 
sion 7 and the 2d Moroccan, 3d Algeri- 
an, and 4th Moroccan Mountain Divi- 
sions were in Italy with the French Ex- 
peditionary Corps, as were the 1st, 3d, 
and 4th Moroccan Tabor (Infantry) 
Regiments. The headquarters of the 
First French Army (Army B) and the 
French II Corps, scheduled to be 
merged for the initial phases of Anvil, 
were in North Africa, along with the 
newly formed French 1st and 5th Ar- 
mored Divisions. The French I 
Corps headquarters, the 9th Colonial 
Infantry Division, the 2d Moroccan 
Tabor Regiment, and the African Com- 
mando Group were on Corsica. Al- 
though French unit designations dif- 
fered somewhat from American no- 
menclature, French military organiza- 
tions and their equipment — except in 
certain colonial formations like the 
Tabors — were nearly identical to that 
of their American counterparts in 
1944. Specifically, like the American 
armored divisions employed in north- 
ern France, the French division blindee 
had three combat commands (instead 
of regiments or brigades), each with 
one tank, one armored infantry (half- 
tracks), and one armored artillery (105- 



eight-division program on 23 January; Vigneras, Re- 
arming the French, p. 158, notes that final French 
agreement did not come until 16 February and, on 
p. 155, that the CCS did not approve the program 
until 2 March. 

'Also known as the Ire Division Francaise Libre 
(1st Free French Division) and the Ire Division de 
Marche (1st Provisional Division). 



PLANNING FOR INVASION 



41 



mm. self-propelled) battalion; one 
mechanized cavalry squadron; and 
mechanized or motorized supporting 
elements. The infantry divisions were 
also organized on a triangular basis 
and used American tables of organiza- 
tion and equipment as well. Thus, de- 
spite differences in language, culture, 
and history, the two principal national 
components of Anvil had an unusual 
degree of homogeneity. 

The French forces outside Italy 
passed to Seventh Army control on 7 
July, but Patch and de Lattre did not 
gain control of the units in Italy until 
23 July, when the Fifth Army released 
them. Patch passed all of these units 
over to de Lattre's command with the 
exception of Brig. Gen. Aime M. 
Sudre's Combat Command 1 (Combat 
Command Sudre or CC Sudre) of the 
French 1 st Armored Division. To give 
the assault force a mobile striking capa- 
bility, Patch had detached CC Sudre 
from the First French Army for the as- 
sault and placed it under the oper- 
ational control of the U.S. VI Corps. 

French Guerrillas 

The Allies expected considerable 
help from French partisans in southern 
France, and the plans of AFHQ, and 
Seventh Army took into consideration 
the potential of the guerrillas for dis- 
rupting German communications and 
harassing German rear areas. 8 The 
guerrillas — or, as they were better 
known, the French Forces of the Interi- 
or (FFI) — had proved their value as in- 
telligence sources long before Anvil 



8 This subsection is based primarily on Vigneras, 
Rearming the French, pp. 299-306, and Hamilton, 
"Southern France," ch. 8. 



took place, and the Allies also antici- 
pated that the FFI could supply rein- 
forcements and replacements for the 
First French Army. 

Until the CCS issued the directive 
for Anvil in July, the operations of 
the FFI in southern France were de- 
signed primarily to support Over- 
lord. Thus, responsibility for the 
control and support of the southern 
FFI was vested in SHAEF, operating 
through the Special Force Headquar- 
ters (SFHQ), an Anglo-American 
agency in London. The Special 
Projects Operations Center of G-3 
AFHQonly assisted SHAEF's supervi- 
sion of FFI groups in southern 
France. 

Although the Free French govern- 
ment had a voice in FFI operations, 
that voice was only as loud as the 
Americans and British, who con- 
trolled guerrilla supplies, allowed it to 
be. With their approval, de Gaulle 
had appointed Lt. Gen. Pierre Koenig 
as commander of the FFI and had 
made Koenig directly responsible to 
Eisenhower. As a practical matter, 
Koenig remained subordinate to 
SFHQ, even after SHAEF, at French 
insistence, approved the formation of 
a tripartite FFI general headquarters. 
Commanded by Koenig and estab- 
lished in London, this organization 
included representatives of various 
British, American, and French agen- 
cies. 

The Allies were unable to make 
similar command and control ar- 
rangements for the FFI in southern 
France until the last moment. On 8 
July, with Anvil scarcely a month 
from the launching, SHAEF and 
Koenig transferred control of the FFI 
in southern France to AFHQand Maj. 



42 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



Gen. Gabriel Cochet, de Gaulle's rep- 
resentative for guerrilla affairs at 
AFHQ. Nominally responsible only to 
Wilson, Cochet actually had to oper- 
ate through the Special Projects Op- 
erations Center at G-3 AFHQ. 

The British had carefully nurtured 
the FFI ever since the fall of France, 
but by mid- 1944 American support 
directed by the Office of Strategic 
Services (OSS) began to equal or out- 
strip the British effort. Aircraft of 
both nations, supplemented by 
French planes, delivered supplies and 
arms of all types to the FFI, and took 
an ever-increasing number of "regu- 
lar" troops to France to coordinate 
FFI and Allied operations, to assist 
the FFI in organizational and supply 
matters, and to increase the FFI's 
combat potential. Such support came 
from OSS Operational Groups, each 
consisting of four officers and thirty 
enlisted men, and from the British 
Special Air Service Brigade, which in- 
cluded two battalions of French para- 
troopers. 9 The principal mission of 
the commando units inserted into 
France was usually sabotage at a par- 
ticular point, after which the comman- 
dos would become part of the FFI. 

Other Allied units sent into France 
included the Jedburgh teams, each 
consisting of two officers (one of 
them French) and an enlisted commu- 
nications expert. 10 Their main mis- 
sions were to establish liaison among 
FFI units and various Allied head- 



9 The 2d and 3d Parachute Chasseur Regiments. 
The French Army often employed the term regiment 
for units that the U.S. Army would designate as bat- 
talions. 

10 For a short but colorful account, see Aaron 
Bank, From OSS to Green Beret: The Birth of the Special 
Forces (Novato, Calif.: Presidio, 1986), pp. 14-62. 



quarters and to provide leadership for 
FFI organizations. Finally, for oper- 
ations in southern France, the Allies 
trained a limited number of "counter- 
scorching" groups, which contained 
men from the French Navy and the 
OSS. The primary mission of these 
units was to thwart German efforts to 
destroy the port facilities along the 
coast of southern France. The groups 
also had secondary intelligence mis- 
sions. 

By 15 August 1944, the FFI in 
southern France could put about 
75,000 men in the field, but only 
about one-third of them were armed. 
These activists, locally known as the 
maquis, had the support of probably 
thousands of part-time agents in the 
cities, towns, and villages. Although 
the guerrillas were not strong enough 
to engage the German Army in posi- 
tional warfare, they severely limited 
its freedom of movement by constant- 
ly harassing German support organi- 
zations and interfering with the dis- 
placements of tactical units behind 
the battlefield. In addition, the sabo- 
tage activities of the maquis contin- 
ually forced the Germans to employ 
large numbers of troops to protect 
and repair rail, highway, telephone, 
and telegraph communications. Per- 
haps if Anvil had been approved 
sooner and responsibility for FFI op- 
erations transferred to AFHQ at an 
earlier date, more could have been 
done with the resistance forces, which 
were much stronger and better orga- 
nized than in the north. 

Organization for the Assault 

The organization and responsibil- 
ities of the air, ground, and naval 



PLANNING FOR INVASION 



43 



FFI Partisan Group, August 1944 



components for Anvil followed estab- 
lished practice in the Mediterranean 
and northwest Europe. 11 The Anvil 
assault organization centered around 
a joint combined command designat- 
ed Western Task Force, which includ- 
ed the Seventh Army, the XII Tactical 
Air Command, and the Western Naval 
Task Force. However, although this 
so-called Western Task Force was os- 
tensibly under the joint command of 
the leaders of the ground, air, and 
naval components, it was actually a 



"This subsection is based primarily on WNTF 
Rpt Southern France; WNTF Opn Plan No. 4-44, 
24 Jul 44; Seventh Army Outline Plan Anvil, 13 Jul 
44; and Annex 9, Beach Maintenance Plan, to Sev- 
enth Army FO 1, 29 Jul 44. For description of com- 
mand arrangements during amphibious operations 
in the Pacific, see volumes in the Pacific subseries of 
the United States Army in World War II. 



notational, or fictional, organization 
with no separate headquarters. Over- 
all control of the Anvil assault was, in 
fact, vested in Wilson at AFHQ. 
During the assault phase, Patch and 
Hewitt theoretically would have equal 
joint command responsibilities; but 
from the time Western Naval Task 
Force embarked Seventh Army until 
the time Patch established his head- 
quarters ashore, Hewitt was in actual 
command of both the ground and 
naval echelons, responsible only to 
Wilson. 

Air support responsibility during 
Anvil presented a rather complicated 
picture. Eaker's MAAF had only gen- 
eral control and coordination respon- 
sibilities. Mediterranean Allied Strate- 
gic Air Force operated the heavy 



44 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



bombers and their escorts assigned to 
the support of Anvil, while Mediter- 
ranean Allied Coastal Air Force pro- 
tected the staging areas and covered 
the assault convoys to a point forty 
miles out from the assault beaches. 
The remainder of the air support re- 
sponsibility rested with Cannon's 
MATAF, which undertook detailed air 
planning, coordinated bomber oper- 
ations, supervised troop carrier air- 
craft operations, and provided air 
cover for the convoys within forty 
miles of the beaches in southern 
France. Under MATAF, Saville's XII 
Tactical Air Command was responsi- 
ble for close air support and for air 
cover in the assault area. Saville had 
operational control over land-based 
and carrier-based aircraft in the as- 
sault area that were directly engaged 
in the close support of the invasion. 
The only exceptions were the aviation 
units of Western Naval Task Force's 
nine escort-carriers (CVEs), which 
Hewitt combined into Task Force 88 
under Rear Adm. T. H. Troubridge 
(RN). Troubridge, in turn, formed 
those CVE-based aircraft not needed 
for local air defense into a pool avail- 
able to Saville for whatever missions 
were within their capabilities. 

Beach operations and ship unload- 
ings were the responsibility of beach 
groups, one assigned to each of the 
three assault divisions. One Army 
combat engineer regiment (about 
1,900 troops) and one Navy beach 
battalion (around 445 personnel) 
formed the nucleus of each beach 
group. The engineer regimental com- 
mander became the beach group 
commander, while the Navy beach 
battalion commander served as the 
beachmaster at each division beach. 



Theoretically, the Army beach group 
commander was responsible for all 
beach and unloading activities, but 
the Navy beachmasters were responsi- 
ble only to Admiral Hewitt for naval 
matters. Since these matters included 
routing and control of landing craft 
(including Army DUKWs 12 ), beaching 
directions, and ship-to-shore commu- 
nications concerned with unloading 
operations, the Navy beachmasters 
had responsibilities that overlapped 
those of the beach group command- 
ers. 

In the end, the beach control 
system for Anvil produced few diffi- 
culties and little friction. The Navy 
beach battalions trained for Anvil 
with the Army engineer combat regi- 
ments with which they were sched- 
uled to operate during the assault. 
Both Army and Navy echelons of the 
beach groups were well versed in the 
responsibilities and capabilities of the 
other well before the invasion. 

To achieve surprise, Admiral Hewitt 
planned to dispense with a lengthy 
preinvasion naval bombardment; 
moreover, since no interference was 
expected from German surface forces, 
he believed that a separate naval cover 
(or support) force was unnecessary. 
For the actual assault, Hewitt divided 
his fire support vessels among the 
attack forces responsible for landing 
the assault divisions and the comman- 
do units. For postassault operations, 
he intended to form his bombardment 
and fire support vessels into a single 
force that would continue to support 
operations ashore as necessary. This 
enabled him to allocate all his major 



12 "Ducks" are light, wheeled amphibious craft 
built on 2.5-ton truck chassis. 



PLANNING FOR INVASION 



45 



combat vessels to various bombard- 
ment, fire support, and convoy 
duties. 13 

Two aspects of the command ar- 
rangements for Anvil deserve special 
notice. 14 First, there were no naval or 
air echelons in the chain of command 
that corresponded to the VI Corps 
headquarters. Second, VI Corps did 
not control all of the ground forces 
participating in the assault; for exam- 
ple, the French commandos, the 1st 
Airborne Task Force, and the 1st 
Special Service Force were to operate 
initially under direct control of the 
Seventh Army. 

In late June, General Truscott, the 
VI Corps commander, reviewed Sev- 
enth Army's Anvil plans and recom- 
mended several changes. First, he 
asked Patch to arrange for naval and 
air echelons on the same level as VI 
Corps for both the planning and as- 
sault phases of the operation. In addi- 
tion, Truscott objected to dividing 
the command of ground elements 
during the assault. He suggested that 
since the main assault was a corps 
task, all units should be under his 
command as the ground assault force 
commander, operating on the same 
level as a corresponding naval com- 
mander. If the VI Corps was to be re- 
sponsible for the success of the entire 



13 For a more detailed treatment of the naval 
effort, see Samuel Eliot Morison, The Invasion of 
France and Germany, 1944-1945, vol. XI, History of 
United States Naval Operations in World War II 
(Boston: Little, Brown, 1959), pp. 233-92. 

14 Additional sources for the remainder of this 
subsection are the following: Seventh Army Rpt, I, 46- 
51; VI Corps After Action Rpt (AAR) Jul-Aug 44, 
Annex I, Notes on Opnl Planning for Opn Anvil; 
Hamilton, "Southern France," ch. 9; and Lucian K. 
Truscott, Jr., Command Missions, A Personal Story (New 
York: E. P. Dutton, 1954), pp. 388-91 (hereafter 
cited as Truscott, Command Missions) . 



assault, then its commander ought to 
have commensurate authority. 

Patch did not agree. Because Trus- 
cott's corps headquarters had been 
released from Italy so late, the Sev- 
enth Army, the XII Tactical Air Com- 
mand, and the Western Naval Task 
Force had already undertaken much 
of the detailed planning that would 
normally be accomplished by the 
corps staff. Creating corps-level air 
and naval planning staffs at this late 
date would only result in confusion. 
Patch also believed that the VI Corps 
staff could not effectively control the 
operations of the airborne and com- 
mando forces during the assault as 
well as those of the three assault divi- 
sions. Instead, he directed that the 
airborne and commando units should 
pass to VI Corps control only when 
they physically joined Truscott's 
forces on the mainland or as other- 
wise commanded by the Seventh 
Army. Truscott accepted these judg- 
ments; the final arrangements thus 
embodied the Seventh Army com- 
mander's concepts, except that once 
the assault force was embarked, Trus- 
cott would report to Admiral Hewitt 
until Patch opened his Seventh Army 
post ashore. 

The arrangement left one gap in 
the Army-Navy chain of command, 
namely, the lack of any corps-level 
echelon in Hewitt's organization, as 
noted earlier by Truscott. Hewitt had 
arranged for his landing force com- 
manders to deal directly with the 
Army divisions, dividing his amphibi- 
ous assault units into four task forces, 
one for each assault division with the 
fourth to land the commandos. There 
was no provision for consultations at 
these levels with the army corps com- 



46 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



mander. During the actual landings, 
the commander of each Army division 
would be responsible to his corre- 
sponding attack force (task force) 
commander. When Truscott estab- 
lished his command post ashore, the 
division commanders would theoreti- 
cally pass to his control; but in reality 
the individual naval task force com- 
manders, acting for Admiral Hewitt, 
could maintain discretionary control 
over landing operations at the divi- 
sion beaches without reference to 
Truscott. Most of the participants 
were experienced and knew that the 
transition between naval and ground 
command during the assault phase of 
an amphibious landing was always a 
delicate matter, one that depended 
more on the close relationships be- 
tween the principal ground and naval 
commanders than on detailed but 
sometimes inflexible command ar- 
rangements. 

Organization for Logistics 

Logistical support responsibility for 
American ground forces engaged in 
Anvil rested with General Larkin's 
Services of Supply (SOS), NATOUSA, 
which had worked closely with Rear 
Force 163 during the planning 
phase. 15 French ground forces re- 



15 This section and its subsections are based gen- 
erally on the following: Coakley and Leighton, 
Global Logistics and Strategy, 1943-1945, chs. 13-15; 
Continental Advance Section, Communications 
Zone, European Theater of Operations, U.S. Army, 
CON AD History (Heidelberg: Aloys Graf, 1945), pp. 
1-47; HQ, NATOUSA/MTOUSA, Logistical History of 
NATOUSA-MTOUSA, 11 August 1943 to 30 November 
1945 (Naples: G. Montanino, 1945), chs. 7-8; La 
Base d'Operations 901, La Base d'Operations 901 dans 
la Bataille pour la Liberation de la France, 1944-1945 
(Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1947), pp. 13-19; Vig- 
neras, Rearming the French, ch. 10; AAF III, 330-35, 



ceived their initial supplies and equip- 
ment from the Franco-American Joint 
Rearmament Committee, an agency 
under the control of Headquarters, 
NATOUSA, which procured supplies 
and equipment from the United 
States for the rebuilding French 
Army. As a practical matter, Services 
of Supply had to make up many 
French shortages from American 
stocks in the Mediterranean. 

Logistical support of American 
land-based air units assigned to back 
up Anvil was the responsibility of the 
Army Air Forces Service Command, 
NATOUSA, a subordinate echelon of 
Eaker's U.S. Army Air Forces, NA- 
TOUSA. Most land-based aircraft di- 
rectly supporting Anvil were located 
on Corsican airfields and supplied by 
XII Air Service Command stocks pro- 
vided by the Army Air Forces Service 
Command. Royal Air Force units at- 
tached to the XII Tactical Air Com- 
mand received most of their supplies 
through British channels, but drew 
some items from the XII Air Service 
Command. French Air Force organi- 
zations supporting Anvil drew initial 
supplies and equipment from stocks 
made available by the tripartite Joint 
Air Commission, which was responsi- 
ble for reequipping the French Air 
Force, but the XII Air Service Com- 
mand also provided some support for 
French air units on Corsica. 

Service Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, 
was the channel through which sup- 
plies flowed to U.S. Navy forces in 
the Mediterranean, although Hewitt's 
Eighth Fleet maintained its own logis- 



416-18; Seventh Army Rpt, I, 65-70; Hamilton, 
"Southern France," chs. 3-5 and 12; and Meyer, 
"MTO History," chs. 24-25. 



PLANNING FOR INVASION 



47 



tical base for storage and issue. Since 
the bulk of the French Navy had ob- 
tained its original supplies and equip- 
ment through the Joint Rearmament 
Commission, the U.S. Navy provided 
support for most French naval units 
participating in Anvil. The Royal 
Navy supplied its own vessels, some 
French ships, and almost all of the 
shipping that belonged to the minor 
Allied navies (Greek and Polish, for 
example). All naval echelons could 
also draw on SOS NATOUSA stocks 
in an emergency. 

Arrangements for supplying and 
distributing fuels and lubricants in the 
Mediterranean provided an effective 
system of combined and joint respon- 
sibilities and activities. All POL (pe- 
troleum, oil, and lubricants) products 
available in the theater came into a 
general pool under the control of Pe- 
troleum Section, AFHQ, which allo- 
cated stocks on a percentage basis to 
various national forces and civilian 
agencies. While each service of each 
nation administered and operated its 
own POL depots, the pool system 
provided that any ship, plane, or 
truck of any service of any nation 
could obtain POL supplies at any air, 
ground, or naval depot of any other 
nation or service; the amount requisi- 
tioned was subtracted from the draw- 
er's allocation. 

In obtaining, storing, and issuing 
supplies for U.S. Army (and to a large 
extent French Army) forces assigned 
to Anvil, SOS operated through sub- 
ordinate base sections at various 
ports in the Mediterranean. Of these, 
the Peninsular Base Section at 
Naples, the Mediterranean Base Sec- 
tion at Oran, and the Northern Base 
Section on Corsica bore the major 



burden of supplying, equipping, and 
loading the ground forces for Anvil. 16 
Once the Seventh Army was ashore in 
southern France, supplies would con- 
tinue to flow through established 
channels until a new organization, 
Coastal Base Section, could take over 
logistical support of the army, esti- 
mated to occur on D plus 30. SOS 
NATOUSA organized Coastal Base 
Section at Naples on 7 July and 
placed it under the command of Maj. 
Gen. Arthur R. Wilson, previously the 
commander of Peninsular Base Sec- 
tion. The staff of Coastal Base Sec- 
tion operated closely with Peninsular 
Base Section and with the Seventh 
Army G-4 (assistant chief of staff for 
logistics) during final planning and 
loading; Wilson made arrangements 
for a large part of his staff to work in 
appropriate staff sections of the Sev- 
enth Army headquarters in southern 
France until Coastal Base Section 
became operational ashore. 

Support of French forces in south- 
ern France was ostensibly the respon- 
sibility of Operations Base 901 which, 
commanded by Brig. Gen. Jean 
Gross, French Army, was theoretically 
a parallel organization to Coastal 
Base Section. But the French lacked 
the technicians, equipment, and 
trained service troops to staff and op- 
erate Base 901 effectively; therefore, 
by default, Coastal Base Section 
became the agency actually responsi- 
ble for supplying Army B (the First 
French Army). Base 901 essentially 



16 Much of Northern Base Section's work on Cor- 
sica was involved in air force support in conjunction 
with the XII Air Service Command, but the base 
section also helped supply and load some French 
Army units and stored emergency supplies for 
Anvil ground forces. 



48 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



became a French component of 
Coastal Base Section and served as li- 
aison between the First French Army 
and the American base. To make this 
arrangement more effective, General 
Gross served simultaneously as the 
commander of Base 901 and as 
Deputy Commanding General, Coast- 
al Base Section for French affairs; in 
addition, each of Coastal Base Sec- 
tion's principal staff sections had 
French deputy chiefs. 

Supply and Shipping Problems 

Logistical support was critical for 
Anvil and the ensuing operations of 
the Seventh Army. When, in January 
1944, Force 163 and SOS NATOUSA 
began to study Anvil's logistical 
problems, the indefinite nature, date, 
place, and size of the operation made 
it impossible for planners to take 
more than preliminary steps toward 
obtaining supplies and equipment for 
the operation. Working from Eisen- 
hower's draft Anvil plan of Decem- 
ber, SOS developed a rough basic 
plan for supporting a force of 
450,000 troops for thirty days in 
southern France. Using this plan as a 
tentative guideline, SOS began for- 
warding supply requisitions to the 
New York port of embarkation (POE) 
as early as 18 January, and later sent 
a liaison officer to the POE armed 
with detailed requisitions and loading 
plans. With the cooperation of the 
U.S. Army Service Forces, SOS also 
made arrangements to have convoys 
sailing to the Mediterranean during 
the period February through April — 
at this time Anvil was still projected 
for May — partially loaded with sup- 
plies allocated to Anvil. At the same 



time, SOS began earmarking Anvil 
supplies in various theater depots, 
hoping to keep such items inviolate 
from the demands of the Italian cam- 
paign. 

Loading began in New York in Feb- 
ruary, employing a process called 
"flatting," in which cargo was careful- 
ly packed into a ship's hold up to a 
certain level and then boarded over 
to provide space in which to stow 
cargo not meant for Anvil. The flat- 
ted cargo space of these ships was 
filled with Anvil materiel, while 
above this level (and on the weather 
decks) the vessels carried general sup- 
plies for the Mediterranean. SOS 
planned to unload the general sup- 
plies in the theater and to reload the 
empty space with supplies, equip- 
ment, and vehicles needed for Anvil. 

In April, after sixty-four cargo ships 
carrying flatted Anvil supplies had 
left the United States for the Mediter- 
ranean, the CCS canceled Anvil. U.S. 
agencies thereafter refused to honor 
further requisitions from SOS for 
Anvil and likewise refused to fulfill 
the incomplete portions of requisi- 
tions already submitted. Army Service 
Forces halted further shipments of 
supplies to the Mediterranean over 
and above those required for theater 
maintenance and the Italian cam- 
paign. 

This turn of events still left large 
quantities of supplies and equipment 
earmarked for Anvil in the Mediter- 
ranean. The sixty-four cargo ships 
that had reached the theater with flat- 
ted Anvil supplies continued to sail 
the Mediterranean with about half 
their cargo capacity still taken up by 
Anvil materiel. Moreover, since Janu- 
ary, SOS had been building up local 



PLANNING FOR INVASION 



49 



depot stocks of materiel also allocated 
to Anvil. Generals Devers and 
Larkin, hoping that Anvil would be 
revived, now acted to freeze all mate- 
riel, both afloat and ashore, that SOS 
had assembled for the operation. Al- 
though General Devers was generally 
successful in resisting War Depart- 
ment pressure to have these Anvil 
supplies reallocated to Italy, he also 
found that emergency requisitions 
from the Fifth Army began to eat into 
Anvil supplies at an alarming rate. 
Nevertheless, when prospects for 
Anvil brightened in June, SOS esti- 
mated that it had on hand in the 
Mediterranean, either afloat or 
ashore, about 75 percent of the sup- 
plies required for a two-division 
Anvil assault, and could also see its 
way clear to sustain Anvil forces 
ashore for some thirty days after the 
first landings. The most serious short- 
ages were in certain types of engi- 
neer, transportation corps, and signal 
equipment. 

In response to a War Department 
request, SOS submitted in June new 
requisitions to the Army Service 
Forces for supplies and equipment 
needed to make up the most critical 
shortages for a three-division Anvil 
assault. SOS also forwarded requisi- 
tions for maintenance materiel that 
would be shipped directly to southern 
France after the assault. Since the 
CCS had not yet reached a firm deci- 
sion on Anvil, the War Department 
could make no final arrangements for 
loading and shipping the supplies that 
SOS requisitioned, but did direct 
Army Service Forces to start moving 
the materiel to embarkation ports on 
the east coast. 

The Anvil supply picture thus 



looked promising in mid-June, and 
prospects brightened further when, 
on the 13th, Devers directed SOS to 
switch the priority of supply oper- 
ations from the Fifth Army in Italy to 
preparations for Anvil. The action 
was not entirely effective until 2 July, 
when the CCS issued their Anvil di- 
rective, which also permitted convoys 
loaded with Anvil supplies to start 
sailing from the United States. The 
first Anvil supply convoy since April 
left New York on 1 July — one day 
before the CCS directive — and the 
first of the new convoys reached the 
Mediterranean on the 15th. By this 
date SOS was able to report that vir- 
tually all the materiel needed for the 
assault and for the support of Ameri- 
can and French forces in southern 
France through D plus 90 was on 
hand, on the way, or promised. There 
is no doubt that this goal was attained 
on such short notice largely because 
of Devers' generally successful efforts 
to freeze Anvil supplies after the 
CCS had canceled the operation in 
April. 

At least indirectly, Devers' freeze 
also helped solve Anvil's shipping 
problems which, as the result of the 
on-again, off-again nature of the op- 
eration, threatened to be extremely 
troublesome. In general, Anvil plans 
estimated that, in addition to naval 
assault shipping, 100 merchant-type 
cargo vessels were needed to carry 
Anvil assault supplies and enough 
additional merchant shipping to pro- 
vide at least 200 individual sailings 
through D plus 90. These require- 
ments were over and above the ship- 
ping needed for general Mediterrane- 
an maintenance and for the support 
of the Italian campaign. 



50 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



The first American contribution 
toward meeting the Anvil require- 
ments was the sixty-four merchant 
ships with flatted cargo that had 
reached the theater between February 
and April. The United States also 
supplied sixty more large merchant 
ships that arrived in fast convoys 
during June and July, and seventy-five 
generally smaller vessels from slower 
convoys. From June through August, 
the Americans also allocated addition- 
al merchant ships to the theater for 
general maintenance, while AFHQ, 
scraped up the rest of the required 
merchant shipping from commands 
within the theater or borrowed it 
from British resources. 

The shortage of amphibious assault 
ships in the Mediterranean for Anvil 
was more serious. In June Admiral 
Hewitt lacked 65 landing ships, tank 
(LSTs); 160 landing ships, infantry 
(LSIs), or attack troop transports 
(APAs); 24 large landing craft, infan- 
try (LCI[L]s); and 3 auxiliary troop 
transports (XAPs). The U.S. Navy dis- 
patched 28 new LSTs to the Mediter- 
ranean, and Eisenhower supplied 24 
more from his resources. This left a 
deficit of 13 out of the 96 LSTs 
planned for the assault. In the end, 
judicious juggling of shipping and 
units made it possible to launch the 
assault with only 81 LSTs. Eisenhow- 
er also sent south the LSIs, APAs, 
and LCI(L)s that Anvil required, 
while the U.S. Navy sent the XAPs 
from American ports. But the newly 
arriving assault shipping, added to 
the one-division amphibious lift that 
AFHQ, already had in the Mediterra- 
nean, was scarcely enough to carry 
the three assault divisions and the 
supporting commando units, much 



less the follow-up supplies and the 
French troops that were to reach 
southern France during the first few 
days after the assault. 

To make up for the shortage of am- 
phibious assault vessels, various expe- 
dients were necessary. AFHQ, and 
Seventh Army had to plan for a much 
earlier employment of merchant-type 
shipping, a risk taken largely because 
intelligence estimates indicated that 
German air and naval forces could 
offer little effective resistance to the 
Anvil assault. In the end, the sixty- 
four merchant ships that had been 
carrying flatted Anvil cargo around 
the theater since April were included 
in the D-day convoy. Likewise, the 
forces of First French Army that were 
to start ashore on D plus 1 were 
largely loaded on merchant ships. 17 

Logistics 

The general supply plan for Anvil 
called for VI Corps assault units to 
reach southern France with a seven- 
day supply of rations, unit equipment, 
clothing, and POL products. 18 Of this 
total, a three-day supply was to be on 
the backs of the troops or aboard the 
vehicles of the assault units, and the 
remainder was to be unloaded and 
stockpiled on the beaches. If all went 
well, some 84,000 troops and 12,000 
vehicles would go ashore over the VI 
Corps' beaches on D-day. An addi- 
tional 33,500 troops and another 



"Additional information on merchant shipping 
and early convoys comes from WNTF Rpt, p. 30, 
and Annex 4, Convoy Plan, to Seventh Army FO 1, 
29 Jul 44. 

18 Additional information on the supply plan is 
from Annex 6, Admin Plan, to Seventh Army Out- 
line Plan Anvil, 13 Jul 44. 



PLANNING FOR INVASION 



51 



8,000 vehicles, including the leading 
elements of the French Army, would 
unload over the same beaches by D 
plus 4. These follow-up units, arriving 
from D plus 1 through D plus 4, 
would carry the same amount of sup- 
plies as the initial assault units. From 
D plus 5 to D plus 30 troop convoys 
would reach southern France at five- 
day intervals, each loaded with a 
seven-day supply of rations, unit 
equipment, clothing, and POL prod- 
ucts for the units carried. 

Planners expected that ranger and 
commando units would start drawing 
supplies from the beach depots on D 
plus 1. The 1st Airborne Task Force 
would drop with the minimum sup- 
plies necessary to accomplish its ini- 
tial missions, but would require aerial 
resupply for at least two days. As an 
added margin of safety, AFHQ, put 
aside seven more days of supply at 
airfields in the Rome area, which the 
Provisional Troop Carrier Air Divi- 
sion could move to southern France 
for either the 1st Airborne Task 
Force or for any other Seventh Army 
unit that might become isolated. No 
aerial resupply was planned for D- 
day, but the Provisional Troop Carri- 
er Air Division was to have 112 
loaded aircraft on call and ready to fly 
to southern France at any time by D 
plus 1. 

The ammunition supply plan called 
for all assault units to land on D-day 
with five units of fire for all weap- 
ons. 19 The D plus 5 convoy was to 
bring with it five units of fire for all 



19 A "unit of fire" was the estimated average 
amount of ammunition that a unit or weapon was 
expected to use during one day of combat and 
varied from theater to theater. See FM 9-6, Ammu- 
nition Supply (15 June 1944), p. 4. 



the troops it carried, plus three and 
one-third units of fire for all elements 
already ashore. The D plus 10 convoy 
would also carry five units of fire for 
its troops, plus one and two-thirds 
units of fire for troops ashore, and so 
on to ensure a steady buildup. 

SOS NATOUSA and Seventh Army 
intended that by D plus 30, when the 
Coastal Base Section was to assume 
supply responsibility in southern 
France, Seventh Army units would 
have ten days of supply for operations 
in hand plus twenty days of supply in 
reserve. The planners estimated that 
through D plus 30 some 277,700 tons 
of cargo would have been unloaded 
over the beaches; roughly 188,350 of 
these tons would have been forward- 
ed to units, and the remainder would 
be in depots. 

Two closely related estimates con- 
cerning the probable course of oper- 
ations in southern France had a 
marked bearing on the supply plan. 
First, intelligence information indicat- 
ed to tactical planners that the ad- 
vance inland would be fairly slow. As 
a result they did not expect that 
Toulon could be captured before D 
plus 20, or that Marseille could be se- 
cured until at least D plus 45. Logisti- 
cians estimated that the American and 
French ground forces would have to 
be supported over the beaches until 
about D plus 30 and that beach 
supply operations could not support 
the tactical forces much farther than 
twenty miles inland. 

Based on these extremely conserva- 
tive logistical and operational projec- 
tions, Army and Navy planners saw an 
opportunity to make better use of the 
limited amount of assault shipping by 
reducing the amount of supplies 



52 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



needed for a fast-paced, mobile 
battle. Expecting determined enemy 
resistance, they instructed the logisti- 
cians to emphasize ammunition and 
to save shipping space by cutting 
deeply into early loadings of POL and 
rations for the period D-day through 
D plus 4. The planners subsequently 
reduced POL loadings for these days 
by 20 percent, lowered the amount of 
rations from a ten- to a seven-day 
supply, and cut the number of vehi- 
cles designated to haul supplies rapid- 
ly and deeply inland from the beach- 
es. The Seventh Army was taking a 
calculated risk. If its forces penetrated 
German defenses faster and farther 
than expected, the reductions of POL 
supplies and vehicles could have a 



marked delaying effect on the course 
of the campaign. On the other hand, 
if the Germans offered determined 
resistance as they had done at Sa- 
lerno, Anzio, and Normandy, then the 
fuel and vehicles would be a grave li- 
ability and ammunition much more 
vital to the troops ashore. With the 
limited number of amphibious ships 
available, the Seventh Army planners 
had little flexibility in this regard, and 
the emphasis on munitions would 
provide the best means of ensuring 
that the combat forces had the ability 
to secure the initial beachhead. 20 



20 For further discussion of Anvil logistics and its 
effects, see chapter 11, especially the sections treat- 
ing munitions, transportation, and POL products. 



CHAPTER IV 



German Plans and Organization 



Until the waning months of 1943 the 
Germans had focused their attention 
on the Russian front. Only in Novem- 
ber of that year did the German high 
command come to regard an Allied in- 
vasion of western Europe as an equal if 
not greater threat than an invasion 
from the east. This realization slowly 
brought about major changes in 
German military deployments. Adolph 
Hitler, the politico-military leader of 
the German state, fully understood the 
dangers of an invasion of northwestern 
Europe. The area was not only close to 
the heartland of Germany's industrial 
base, but also lay on the approaches to 
the north German plains, the tradition- 
al invasion route to central Europe. He 
thus vowed to turn the northeastern 
portion of the Continent into a Festung 
Europa and resist any invasion of the 
northern coast as strongly as possible. 
With this judgment German military 
leaders could hardly disagree. 1 



'German material in this volume is based mainly 
on a series of CMH manuscripts collectively entitled 
"German Operations in Southern France and 
Alsace, 1944," prepared by Charles V. P. von Lutti- 
chau and other historians of the former Foreign 
Military Studies Branch, CMH, and based on origi- 
nal German sources (hereafter cited as von Lutti- 
chau, "German Operations"). For more information 
on German operational and tactical planning, espe- 
cially in regard to northern France, see the appro- 
priate sections of Pogue, The Supreme Command; Har- 



German Organization and Operational 
Concepts 

Before November 1943 Oberbefehl- 
shaber West (OB West), the German the- 
ater command responsible for the 
defense of France, had served as a 
reservoir of reinforcements for the 
eastern front and to a lesser degree 
for Italy and the Balkans. In Novem- 
ber, however, Hitler and his armed 
forces high command, Oberkommando 
der Wehrmacht (OKW), abandoned this 
practice and began strengthening OB 
West as quickly as possible to resist a 
predicted Allied amphibious invasion 
expected to strike the northern coast 
of France. Although unforeseen con- 
tingencies on the eastern front and in 
Italy forced the German high com- 
mand to slow down this buildup 
during the opening months of 1944, 
OB West continued to prepare against 
the anticipated Allied cross-Channel 
invasion with all the local resources it 
could muster, hoping that somehow 
Germany would be able to raise the 
forces necessary to carry out the 
broad defensive policy on which 
Hitler and OKW had decided. 



rison, Cross-Channel Attack; and Martin Blumenson, 
Breakout and Pursuit (Washington, 1961), all in the 
United States Army in World War II series. 



54 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



Hitler's defensive policy made the 
coast of France the German main line 
of resistance (MLR) in western 
Europe, and OKW planned to fortify 
the Normandy shoreline so thorough- 
ly that local reserves would be able to 
deal with most invasion attempts. But 
if the Allies succeeded in putting 
strong forces ashore, OKW wanted a 
powerful, mobile central reserve com- 
posed primarily of armored units, 
which could drive the Allies back into 
the sea. To create such a force, OB 
West was prepared to strip any sectors 
not directly affected by the invasion, 
although the final decision to commit 
the central reserve was to be made by 
OKW and ultimately by Hitler himself. 

These plans, particularly making 
the French coast the MLR, required 
manpower, materiel, and time the 
Germans did not have. As a result, 
the so-called Atlantic Wall never 
became a true defensive line and con- 
sisted mainly of a series of semi-iso- 
lated strongpoints. In fact, well before 
Overlord began, OB West had 
reached the conclusion that it faced a 
virtually impossible defensive task 
with the means at hand and had 
begun tentative plans to withdraw 
strength from southern France to 
defend the northern part of the coun- 
try where, most German planners be- 
lieved, the main Allied invasion would 
come. 

As early as January 1944, the Ger- 
mans had developed reasonably accu- 
rate estimates of Allied intentions in 
regard to France. They certainly ex- 
pected a major invasion and thought 
it would come in northern France 
during the first third of the year; they 
also believed that the invasion would 
coincide with a Russian spring offen- 



sive and that the Allies would launch 
strong secondary attacks at the same 
time as the main effort. The German 
high command at first interpreted the 
Anzio landing of late January as the 
beginning of a series of peripheral 
operations designed to pin down and 
disperse German forces before the 
cross-Channel assault. The Germans 
changed this estimate when they dis- 
covered that the Allies retained 
strong, uncommitted forces in North 
Africa, and decided that the Allies 
would launch another major attack in 
the Mediterranean more or less in 
conjunction with an invasion of north- 
ern France. In February, German in- 
telligence even concluded that an as- 
sault into southern France would 
come before the cross-Channel oper- 
ation. By May, however, they had 
taken a harder look at Allied amphibi- 
ous capabilities and reduced the un- 
dertaking in southern France to the 
status of a threat — an estimate coin- 
ciding remarkably well with contem- 
porary Allied decisions concerning 
Anvil. 

Mildly surprised when Overlord 
started without a concurrent Allied 
invasion of southern France (as they 
had been mildly surprised when the 
Russian spring offensive of 1944 
began without a concurrent Over- 
lord), the Germans kept a wary eye 
on southern France after 6 June. For 
a while OKW estimates fluctuated be- 
tween the Italian Ligurian coast and 
the French Riviera as the probable 
sites for an Allied amphibious landing 
in the Mediterranean. But by early 
August most German planners were 
convinced that southern France would 
be the Allied target. Only OB South- 
west, the German theater command in 



GERMAN PLANS AND ORGANIZATION 



55 



Italy, still thought that landings some- 
where in northern Italy were more 
likely. Three days before the Anvil 
target date — 15 August — German 
commanders in southern France were 
aware of Allied strength for the as- 
sault, of the Allies' general intentions, 
and of the probable date of the oper- 
ation, but had not yet reached a firm 
conclusion as to the exact location of 
the assault beachhead. 

Meanwhile, events in northern 
France had been moving toward a 
climax. Once the Allies succeeded in 
establishing a bridgehead in Norman- 
dy, Field Marshal Gerd von Rund- 
stedt, commanding OB West, began to 
consider a general withdrawal from 
France. By mid-June he had become 
convinced that the situation in Nor- 
mandy was irretrievable and that it 
was too late for OKW to do anything 
except pull all OB West forces, includ- 
ing those in southern France, back to 
the fixed fortifications along the 
German border. But Hitler and OKW 
vehemently disagreed, and Hitler, al- 
ready dissatisfied with the course of 
operations in Normandy, decided that 
a younger, less pessimistic command- 
er was needed in France. Accordingly, 
on 3 July he dismissed von Rundstedt 
and placed Field Marshal Guenther 
von Kluge in command of OB West. 

The command change solved little. 
Von Kluge was unable to halt the 
steady Allied buildup in Normandy 
and the subsequent Allied breakout at 
St. Lo that began on 25 July. Faced 
with a major reversal on the battle- 
field, Hitler and OKW saw only two 
alternatives: a general withdrawal, as 
advocated by von Kluge, or a major 
counterattack. Breaking off in Nor- 
mandy, OKW estimated, could lead 



only to an early and deep withdrawal 
from northern France, forcing the 
abandonment of southern France and 
probably requiring redeployments 
from Italy and the Balkans as well. In- 
stead, OKW recommended an imme- 
diate counterattack with all available 
means against the flank of the Allied 
breakthrough in Normandy. Hitler 
agreed, and what was to become 
known as the Mortain counterattack 
began on 7 August. 2 

The decision to counterattack in 
early August forced OB West to pull 
even more forces out of southern 
France. However, Hitler and OKW 
were not yet ready to openly modify 
the missions assigned the German 
armies in the south and, between 2 and 
15 August, issued instructions to the 
German commanders in southern 
France confirming their mission of 
holding the coast at all costs. Neverthe- 
less, OKW began drawing up contin- 
gency plans for a general withdrawal of 
all OB West forces to new defensive 
lines across northeastern France. 
These plans included evacuating most 
German forces from both western and 
southern France. Yet Hitler and other 
German leaders still hoped that the 
Allied breakthrough could be pinched 
off and contained, making such ex- 
treme measures unnecessary. 

By 12 August OKW concluded that 
the Mortain counterattack had failed, 
and recommended a general with- 
drawal to the east before the remain- 
ing German forces in France became 
isolated and trapped. Hitler at first 
hesitated, feeling that his generals 
were too quick to withdraw. However, 



2 See Blumenson, Breakout and Pursuit, for a full ac- 
count of this action. 



56 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



by 15 August, the date scheduled for 
the Allied landings in southern 
France, the failure of the counterat- 
tack had become obvious to everyone, 
and large numbers of elite German 
troops were in danger of being 
trapped within the rapidly closing Fa- 
laise Pocket. In the north, von Kluge's 
chief of staff was frantically seeking 
new decisions from OKW, averring 
that a complete collapse of OB West in 
northern France was now imminent. 
Meanwhile, Hitler, once again dissat- 
isfied with the performance of his 
generals, decided to replace von 
Kluge with Field Marshal Walter 
Model. Thus, as the Allied invasion 
fleet approached France's Mediterra- 
nean shore in the south, the German 
high command was in a state of gen- 
eral disarray, making any immediate 
theater-level response to the landings 
extremely difficult. 

German Organization and Strength 

At the beginning of June 1944, von 
Rundstedt's OB West, theoretically a 
joint theater command, was little 
more than an army group headquar- 
ters with minimal direct authority 
over local air and naval commands or 
even over certain other army com- 
mands in the west. 3 By that time von 
Rundstedt had delegated responsibil- 
ity for the ground defense of north- 
ern France to Field Marshal Erwin 
Rommel, commanding Army Group B, 
and of southern France to General Jo- 
hannes Blaskowitz, commanding Army 
Group G. The boundary line between 
the two units followed the Loire River 



from the Atlantic to Tours and then 
ran southeast to the Swiss border. 
Von Rundstedt's command problems 
were complicated by the fact that 
Rommel also held semi-independent 
authority as inspector of coastal de- 
fenses and held defensive concepts 
not entirely in accord with those of 
OB West. In addition, Rommel had 
been appointed by Hitler personally 
and, as a field marshal, had direct 
access to the German leader, bypass- 
ing von Rundstedt. The OB West com- 
mander also had to cope with many 
governmental and paramilitary agen- 
cies that continually nibbled at his au- 
thority, preventing him from unifying 
German efforts behind the battlefield. 
Von Kluge, who relieved von Rund- 
stedt on 3 July, was in a somewhat 
better position, having Hitler's confi- 
dence at first and developing a close 
personal relationship with Rommel. 
When Rommel was wounded in mid- 
July, von Kluge assumed command of 
Army Group B in addition to OB West, 
thereby consolidating the army com- 
mand in northern France. 

The three other major military 
commands in northern France were 
the Third Air Force, under Field Mar- 
shal Hugo Sperrle; Navy Group West, 
under Admiral Theodor Krancke; and 
the office of Military Governor France, 
headed by Lt. Gen. Karl Heinrich von 
Stulpnagel. Field Marshal Sperrle re- 
ported to Reichsmarschall Hermann 
Goering's Oberkommando der Luftwaffe 
(OKL), while Admiral Krancke was re- 
sponsible to the Oberkommando der 
Kriegsmarine (OKM), under Grand Ad- 
miral Karl Doenitz. 4 As a civil admin- 



3 On the rolls of the German Army HQ OB West 4 Goering was the highest ranking officer of the 
was actually listed as HQ Army Group D. German armed forces and as Reichsmarschall held 



GERMAN PLANS AND ORGANIZATION 



57 




General Johannes Blaskowitz (center). 



istrator of occupied territory, General 
von Stulpnagel was responsible to the 
German government, but as military 
commander of security forces in 
France, he reported to OB West. In 
addition, OB West attached most of its 
logistical and administrative staff sec- 
tions to von Stulpnagel's headquar- 
ters, thereby making that headquar- 
ters the logistical command for 
German ground forces in France, 
somewhat analogous to Services of 
Supply in NATOUSA. 

In southern France General 



Blaskowitz of Army Group G and Gen- 
eral Friedrich Wiese, heading the 
Nineteenth Army, were the principal 
German military commanders. While 
Blaskowitz had been an opponent of 
some of the Hitlerian regime's harsh- 
er policies, Wiese had been a member 
of the Freikorps in 1919 and was con- 
sidered a fervent Nazi by American 
authorities. 5 Both enjoyed good mili- 
tary reputations, but, like OB West, 
had limited authority over some of 
the military and paramilitary forces in 
their areas of operation. Blaskowitz, 



what would correspond to a nonexistent "six star" 
rank in the U.S. armed forces. Doenitz's equivalent 
rank in the U.S. Navy was Admiral of the Fleet, five 
stars. 



5 For contemporary Allied evaluations of German 
leaders, see "G-2 History: Seventh Army Oper- 
ations in Europe," IV, Annex III, Box 2, William W. 
Quinn Papers, MHI (copies also in Seventh Army 
retired records at WNRC). 



58 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 




General Friedrich Wiese 



for example, initially had direct con- 
trol over only the coastal areas along 
the Atlantic and Mediterranean inland 
to a depth of about twenty miles. 
Prior to Anvil, the rest of the region 
was under the control of Lt. Gen. 
Ernst Dehner's Army Area Southern 
France, a component of the Military 
Governor France, whose forces were en- 
gaged primarily in antiguerrilla and 
police activities. 

Blaskowitz's control of local Ost Le- 
gions was also limited. Ost units were 
separate infantry forces made up of 
volunteer, drafted, or impressed sol- 
diers from eastern Europe, mainly 
Poles, Russians, and Czechs; some of 
these organizations were attached to 



army field units, and others were in- 
dependent. As security forces they 
were considered adequate, but their 
conventional combat capabilities were 
suspect. Headquarters, Ost Legion, was 
an administrative and training com- 
mand that controlled Ost units not 
specifically assigned to Army Group G. 
The Ost Legion headquarters was 
under OB West for operations, but re- 
ported to the German Army high 
command, Oberkommando des Heeres 
(OKH), for administrative matters 
concerning the numerous Ost units 
in Army Group G's area. Upon an Al- 
lied invasion of southern France, 
Blaskowitz was to assume greater con- 
trol over both Ost Legion units and any 
tactical forces under Army Area South- 
ern France, but even then his authority 
was not total. 

In southern France, Admiral Atlantic 
Coast controlled naval units from Brit- 
tany south to the Spanish border, and 
Admiral French South Coast controlled 
those on the Mediterranean littoral. 
Both answered directly to Navy Group 
West, and the Mediterranean com- 
mand was further subdivided into 
Naval Command Languedoc (west of 
Toulon) and Naval Command French 
Riviera (Toulon east to the Italian 
border). All forces under these two 
commands were land based and con- 
sisted of coast defense artillery, anti- 
aircraft units, service troops, and a va- 
riety of special staffs and offices. The 
only surface unit in southern France 
was the 6th Security Flotilla, which, with 
a handful of patrol craft, reported 
through Security Forces West to Navy 
Group West. 

Blaskowitz's control over naval ar- 
tillery was restricted. Initially all naval 
guns remained under naval control. 



GERMAN PLANS AND ORGANIZATION 



59 



After an Allied landing had actually 
taken place, control was to be split, 
with the navy directing fire on Allied 
aircraft and shipping, and the army 
directing fire against ground targets, 
a division that was guaranteed to 
create problems. 

Third Air Force responsibilities in 
southern France were carried out by 
the 2d Air Division and Fighter Command 
Southern France. Neither had any 
ground support responsibilities. As of 
15 August, the 2d Air Division could 
muster only about sixty-five torpedo 
bombers and fifteen bombers 
equipped to carry radio-controlled 
missiles. Fighter Command Southern 
France, with the primary mission of air 
defense, had virtually no aircraft and 
would receive only minor reinforce- 
ments from Italy after the invasion 
had begun. 6 

As opposed to the weak air and 
naval commands, Army Group G was a 
reasonably strong and well-balanced 
force in early June. In the west the 
German First Army, with the LXXX 
and LXXXVI Corps (each with two divi- 
sions), defended the Atlantic coast 
from the Loire River south to the 
Spanish border. In the south the Nine- 
teenth Army guarded the Mediterrane- 
an coast with three corps: the IV 
Luftwaffe Field Corps, with three divi- 
sions; Corps Kniess (soon to be redesig- 
nated LXXXV Corps), with two divi- 
sions; and the LXII Reserve Corps, also 
with two divisions. In addition 
Blaskowitz had the LXVI Reserve Corps 
which, with part of one division and 
various lesser units, held the Pyrenees 



6 The number of planes redeployed from Italy 
cannot be determined, but it appears to have been 
less than two squadrons. 



border area, the Carcassonne Gap 
land bridge between the Atlantic and 
Mediterranean coasts, and the Massif 
Central, a broad plateau region west 
of the Rhone valley. Behind these six 
corps, Army Group G also had the 
LVIII Panzer Corps, a reserve force 
controlling three panzer divisions. Fi- 
nally, the 17th SS Panzer Grenadier Divi- 
sion, an OKW reserve unit, and the 
157th Reserve Mountain Division, oper- 
ating under Army Area Southern France, 
were to pass to Blaskowitz's control in 
the event of an Allied invasion. Thus, 
in June, Army Group G had under its 
command two army headquarters, 
seven corps headquarters, three ar- 
mored divisions, the equivalent of 
thirteen infantry divisions, and a host 
of smaller combat units, while two 
other divisions were to pass to its 
control following an Allied landing. 7 

Serious manpower and equipment 
shortages plagued all of these units. 
The army group, army, and corps 
headquarters lacked many of the 
normal logistical and administrative 
support units and special staffs neces- 
sary for command and control, and 
the tactical staffs at division level and 
below were all greatly understrength. 
Despite frequent requests to higher 
headquarters, Blaskowitz was unable 
to expand even his own staff to what 
he felt was an adequate size, a prob- 
lem that undoubtedly hampered 
German planning activities. 8 



'Allied estimates often carried the Ost Legion as a 
separate, ready division, but these units were gener- 
ally attached to existing German infantry regiments 
as a fourth battalion. 

8 Authorized only in late April 1944, Army Group G 
headquarters had become operational on 12 May, 
but was initially designated an Armeegruppe with an 
inferior status to that of Army Group B, which was 
classified as a Heeresgruppe. Only on 1 1 September 



60 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



The condition of the various infan- 
try divisions under Blaskowitz was 
also spotty. The long drain on 
German resources had left many of 
these units with a high proportion of 
ethnic Germans from conquered east- 
ern territories, while many of the 
native Germans were overage or in 
limited service categories. Some divi- 
sions also had large numbers of Ost 
troops, and others were markedly un- 
derstrength and underequipped, with 
little training or experience in large 
unit operations. 

Blaskowitz classified four of his in- 
fantry divisions as static, or garrison, 
units with little mobility or logistical 
resources. One of these divisions had 
only seven of its nine authorized in- 
fantry battalions, and another had 
three Ost battalions attached to it. 
Five other divisions carried the desig- 
nation reserve. Although supposedly in 
training, these divisions were engaged 
primarily in construction and security 
activities, and their conventional mili- 
tary capabilities had severely declined. 
Each had somewhere between four 
and nine infantry battalions, a mixed 
collection of light and medium artil- 
lery pieces, and a variety of Ost battal- 
ions. 

Probably the best infantry divisions 
were four organized under the new 
1944 tables of organization and 
equipment (TOE). 9 At 12,770 men, 
these units were substantially smaller 
than the 1939-43 infantry divisions 



was Blaskowitz's headquarters raised to the status of 
Heeresgruppe. 

9 TOEs were published military tables listing the 
authorized equipment by type and the personnel by 
rank and specialty that a particular unit was sup- 
posed to have. Normally units in combat did well to 
maintain 80-90 percent of their TOE strength. 



(authorized over 17,000 men), but 
were lighter and had greater firepow- 
er. Each 1944 division was authorized 
three regimental headquarters con- 
trolling two infantry battalions, as 
well as a seventh infantry, or fusilier, 
battalion operating as a reserve di- 
rectly under divisional control. How- 
ever, they still lacked the motor trans- 
port and logistical capabilities of the 
larger American infantry divisions 
and, by themselves, were much 
weaker than their Allied counterparts. 

The German armored formations 
were a different story. Throughout 
World War II the German Army con- 
centrated its best weapons, equip- 
ment, and manpower in its armored 
units — the panzer and panzer grena- 
dier divisions — and left its foot infan- 
try divisions generally neglected. The 
German high command regarded 
both types of divisions as "mobile 
units" and often used them inter- 
changeably on the battlefield to stif- 
fen the less well endowed infantry di- 
visions and to counterattack enemy 
penetrations of the front lines. But as- 
sessing the precise strength of these 
armored formations at any given time 
is difficult. By 1944 the circumstances 
of war and Germany's low production 
of armored vehicles had greatly 
blurred the organizational distinction 
between panzer (armored) and panzer 
grenadier (armored, or mechanized, 
infantry) divisions. In mid- 1944 each 
panzer division was generally author- 
ized one two-battalion tank regiment 
(fifty to sixty tanks per battalion), two 
two-battalion mechanized infantry 
regiments (four infantry battalions), a 
mechanized reconnaissance battalion, 
an armored artillery regiment, and 
mechanized or motorized support 



GERMAN PLANS AND ORGANIZATION 



61 




German Armor Passing Through Toulouse 



units; the panzer grenadier division 
was normally authorized two three- 
battalion motorized infantry regi- 
ments (six infantry battalions), one 
tank or assault gun battalion, a 
mechanized reconnaissance battalion, 
and motorized support units. Howev- 
er, the attachment and detachment of 
battalion-sized units to and from 
these divisions was common, and the 
armored formations rarely went into 
combat with either their full author- 
ized or existing operational strength. 
In addition, the use of either armored 
half-tracks or light trucks to carry the 
infantry of either type of division de- 
pended on the availability of equip- 
ment; the substitution of turretless 
assault guns for turreted tanks some- 
times occurred for the same reason. 



Thus, with a higher infantry-to-tank 
ratio than the standard American ar- 
mored divisions (with three tank and 
three armored infantry battalions) 
and with equipment shortages further 
reducing their armor strength, both 
formations bore striking similarities to 
the standard American infantry divi- 
sion of World War II with its normal 
attachment of one tank battalion 
(sixty tanks), one self-propelled tank 
destroyer battalion (thirty-six pieces), 
and motorized support units. 

Although the three armored divi- 
sions of the LVII Panzer Reserve Corps 
were in various stages of activation 
and training, and their infantry regi- 
ments were generally truck-mounted 
with few armored half-tracks, each 
could put at least one or two strong 



62 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



combat commands in the field. More- 
over, their tank units were equipped 
with Mark IV medium and Mark V 
(Panther) heavy tanks, both of which 
were better armored and armed than 
their American counterparts, and 
their commanders, staffs, and troops 
were generally well experienced. 
Other units in reserve were less im- 
pressive. The 17th SS Panzer Grenadier 
Division, for example, lacked many of 
its components, while the 157th 
Mountain Reserve Division was hardly 
more than a reinforced regimental 
combat team. Yet these mobile re- 
serves constituted a powerful weapon 
against any amphibious assault on 
either the Mediterranean or Atlantic 
French coasts. 

To further beef up their combat 
power, the German forces in southern 
France also employed large quantities 
of captured equipment of all types. 
Their artillery, for example, included 
weapons of French, Italian, Russian, 
Czech, and other manufacture, all of 
various calibers and sizes; the variety 
among vehicles was even greater, 
ranging from models captured from 
the British in North Africa, to French 
armored machines of all kinds, to a 
broad collection of commercial trucks, 
vans, and autos drafted for military 
service. Although these improvisa- 
tions aggravated Army Group G's spare 
parts and ammunition resupply prob- 
lems, they also enabled Blaskowitz to 
strengthen significantly the units 
under his command. 

In comparison to the defenses of 
the Channel coast and Normandy, the 
fixed defensive installations in south- 
ern France were weak. Blaskowitz had 
been unable to obtain the materials 
required for strong coastal fortifica- 



tions, and the construction of large 
submarine pens at Marseille had con- 
sumed a high percentage of the de- 
fensive materiel and labor that had 
been made available. Civilian labor 
was limited, while the requirements of 
training, security, and antiguerrilla 
operations made it impossible for 
Blaskowitz to use military manpower 
extensively to bring his defenses up 
to the standards necessary to face a 
major Allied assault. Nevertheless, the 
German commander realized that the 
Allied air bases in Corsica could not 
begin to duplicate the air support 
available for a cross-Channel assault 
in the north, and so his freedom of 
maneuver in the south would be sig- 
nificantly greater. Thus, by concen- 
trating his coastal defense prepara- 
tions in those areas most likely to be 
targets of an amphibious assault and 
by carefully positioning his sixteen di- 
visions, Blaskowitz could bring con- 
siderable pressure to bear against any 
one-, two-, or three-division Anvil as- 
sault throughout the spring and early 
summer of 1944. Any Allied amphibi- 
ous invasion attempt there could 
expect a heavy fight at the beachhead 
and no assurance of ultimate success. 

The Effects of Overlord 

After the invasion of northern 
France, the strength of Army Group G 
gradually deteriorated as unit after 
unit was ordered to the Normandy 
area. The 17th SS Panzer Grenadier Di- 
vision departed on 7 June, followed 
rapidly by the LXXXVI Corps head- 
quarters, an armored division, all four 
1944-type infantry divisions, four ar- 
tillery battalions, and an assault gun 
battalion. The transfers were tempo- 



GERMAN PLANS AND ORGANIZATION 



63 



rarily halted but resumed in late July 
with the departure of the LVIII Panzer 
Corps headquarters, another armored 
division, one of the static infantry di- 
visions, another assault gun battalion, 
four assault gun training battalions 
(which had personnel but few combat 
vehicles), and five infantry training 
battalions. 

Transfers from southern to north- 
ern France continued during the first 
half of August almost until the ships 
of the Western Naval Task Force 
were in sight of the Riviera. Major 
losses were the headquarters of the 
First Army, the LXVI and LXXX Corps, 
a regimental combat team of the 
338th Infantry Division, two more artil- 
lery battalions, another infantry re- 
placement battalion, and one of the 
11th Panzer Division's two tank battal- 
ions. A number of smaller units also 
went north between June and August, 
including the antiaircraft units that 
had protected the bridges over the 
Rhone and the antitank companies of 
four infantry divisions. 

These losses greatly reduced the 
strength of Army Group G, and the re- 
inforcements reaching southern 
France after 6 June provided little 
relief. Moving in were the LXIV Corps 
headquarters, which replaced the First 
Army on the Atlantic coast; two worn- 
out infantry divisions from Norman- 
dy, one of which had to be consoli- 
dated with a remaining Army Group G 
division; a battered division from the 
Russian front that had been merged 
with the cadre of a new division from 
Germany; two antitank battalions; and 
one heavy artillery battalion. By 15 
August Blaskowitz had thus lost two- 
thirds of his armored reserve and 
about one-quarter of his infantry divi- 



sions. Obviously he could expect no 
assistance from Army Group B, which 
was now in a state of near collapse, 
but reinforcement still might be pos- 
sible from the Italian front under OB 
Southwest. 

OB Southwest 

The relationship of OB Southwest in 
Italy with OB West and Army Group G 
merits special attention. 10 German 
operational strategy in Italy was es- 
sentially defensive. The principal mis- 
sion of the theater commander, Field 
Marshal Albert Kesselring, was to 
hold the shortest possible east-west 
line across the Italian peninsula and 
keep the Allied ground forces in Italy 
bottled up in the narrow peninsula as 
far south as possible. Although Kes- 
selring had no responsibilities regard- 
ing the defense of southern France, 
he was obviously interested in any 
threat to his rear that an amphibious 
invasion might pose. But neither Kes- 
selring nor his superiors believed that 
the Allied amphibious assaults against 
either northern or southern France 
posed any direct threat to OB South- 
west, and even after Anvil had oc- 
curred, German leaders considered a 
strong Allied thrust into northern 
Italy through the Alps highly unlikely. 

Throughout the spring and summer 
of 1944, Hitler and OKW were more 
concerned with an amphibious assault 
against northern Italy along either the 
Ligurian or Adriatic coasts, behind 
the German lines. Such a landing 



10 For further information on German strategy for 
Italy, see Ernest F. Fisher, Jr., Cassino to the Alps, 
United States Army in World War II (Washington, 
1977). 



64 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



could cause a complete collapse of 
the theater and project Allied land 
and air power dangerously close to 
the German heartland. Their fears 
were undoubtedly strengthened by 
Kesselring's estimates that the next 
major Allied offensive in the Mediter- 
ranean would be an assault in the 
Genoa area, outflanking German de- 
fenses north of Rome and forcing him 
to evacuate the Italian peninsula. 
Moreover, in June and July, Kessel- 
ring was under renewed Allied mili- 
tary pressure in Italy from Wilson's 
drives north of Rome. These multiple 
threats to OB Southwest finally prompt- 
ed Hitler to send Kesselring six more 
divisions, including one that had been 
promised earlier to Army Group G. 
Furthermore, in early August OKW 
advised that, should a withdrawal 
from southern France become neces- 
sary, at least two of Army Group G's di- 
visions should be transferred to OB 
Southwest to protect Kesselring's rear 
along the Franco-Italian border. In no 
case was there any discussion of send- 
ing reinforcements to Army Group G 
from OB Southwest. 

In August 1944 Kesselring's contin- 
ued concern about the Ligurian coast 
had even led him to reinforce that 
area. On 3 August he appointed the 
Italian Marshal Rodolfo Graziani to 
command the newly formed Ligurian 
Army, consisting of two understrength 
German divisions and two Italian divi- 
sions of doubtful reliability. Southeast 
along the coast from Genoa, but not 
part of Ligurian Army, were two more 
German divisions, and by 10 August 
Kesselring had begun assembling 
even more divisions in northern Italy 
to act as a central reserve for the 
entire Italian theater. However, nei- 



ther OKW or OB Southwest laid even 
tentative plans to use these forces for 
a flanking attack against Allied troops 
landing in southern France. In fact, as 
the southern France campaign devel- 
oped, Kesselring's only mission would 
be to hold the Alpine mountain 
passes and block any possible Allied 
excursion into northern Italy. Al- 
though Allied intelligence sources 
confirmed Kesselring's passive stand 
toward the invasion of southern 
France, Generals Patch and Truscott, 
the principal Allied ground com- 
manders in the assault, continued to 
watch the Alpine passes on their right 
flank for any sign of unusual German 
activity. 11 The plans of the German 
military commanders in the past had 
not always been discernible, and there 
was no reason to believe that their 
operational ingenuity would disap- 
pear in the immediate future. 

Perhaps a more significant factor 
was the preoccupation of Hitler and 
OKW with the deteriorating situation 
in northern France. By 15 August 
OKW was far more interested in with- 
drawing the bulk of Army Group G 
northward to help stem the threat of 
an Allied breakout from Normandy 
than it was in forestalling an Allied 
invasion of southern France. Al- 
though Hitler himself might not have 
let the matter drop so easily, he prob- 
ably lacked the time to study the 
German situation along the southern 



11 For discussion, see Arthur L. Funk, "General 
Patch and the Alpine Passes, 1944," paper present- 
ed at the American Historical Association meeting 
in Chicago, 1987; and ibid., "Intelligence and Oper- 
ations: Anvil/Dragoon, the Landings in Southern 
France," paper presented at the Xlllth International 
Colloquy on Military History, Helsinki, 1988 (copies 
at CMH). 



GERMAN PLANS AND ORGANIZATION 



65 



French coast in any great detail. Thus 
neither Hitler, OKW, OB West, nor OB 
Southwest ever considered employing 
German forces in Italy to mount a 
counterattack against an Allied inva- 
sion of southern France. This critical 
lack of interest had been carefully 
noted in Allied intelligence estimates 
prior to Anvil, allowing Allied plan- 
ners to minimize the danger of an OB 
Southwest thrust into France through 
the Alpine passes after the invasion 
had begun. 

The German Nineteenth Army 

The steady transfer of Army Group 
G's best units out of the zone and the 
continued deterioration of the 
German position in northern France 
may have convinced Blaskowitz that 
any attempt to resist a major Allied 
amphibious assault against the Atlan- 
tic or Mediterranean coasts was futile. 
In the west his coastal defenses had 
been so weakened that they were no 
more than an advanced outpost line. 
On 8 August OB West had even re- 
duced the missions of the Atlantic 
forces, requiring the LXIV Corps to 
hold only three strongpoints in the 
event of a major landing. The corps' 
remaining forces — two understrength 
divisions, some separate regiments, 
and a variety of paramilitary organiza- 
tions (police or security units) — were 
only to maintain a screen along the 
coast and protect Army Group G's 
northwest flank on the Loire River. 
But, outside of holding local FFI 
forces at bay, little more could be ex- 
pected from this command. 

Along the Mediterranean coast, 
the situation was different. There 
Blaskowitz retained the ability to con- 



test a major assault. Although greatly 
reduced, the forces that made up the 
Nineteenth Army were still reasonably 
strong, their defensive missions un- 
changed, and their commanders vet- 
eran soldiers. As of mid-August 
Wiese's forces totaled seven infantry 
divisions controlled by three corps 
headquarters. Although most of these 
formations were "still understrength 
and short of equipment, many were 
rested and experienced units that 
could be expected to give a good ac- 
count of themselves if well led and 
well positioned. Wiese's problem, like 
Rommel's in the north, was to decide 
where the Allies would land or, more 
accurately, how he could best deploy 
his forces to enable them to carry out 
their defensive missions under a vari- 
ety of contingencies. 

In early August, responsibility for 
the defense of the French Mediterra- 
nean coast from Toulon to the Italian 
border rested with the Nineteenth 
Army's LXII Corps under Lt . Gen. Fer- 



dinand Neuling \(Map 2)\ Neuling's 



LXII Corps consisted of the 242d and 
148th Infantry Divisions and a host of 
smaller units of all types. The 242d 
Division, under Maj. Gen. Johannes 
Baessler, was deployed from the 
Toulon area east to Antheor Cove, a 
few miles north of the Argens River, 
and was thus responsible for a sector 
that would include almost all of the 
Anvil assault beaches. Baessler was 
also designated the Toulon garrison 
commander, responsible for the de- 
fenses of the port. From Antheor 
Cove northeast to the Italian border, 
the coast was defended by the 148th 
Division of Maj. Gen. Otto Fretter- 
Pico. Fretter-Pico's zone included the 
smaller ports of Nice and Cannes. 



66 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 




GERMAN DISPOSITIONS 

SOUTHERN FRANCE 

15 August 1944 

100 
MILES 



MAP 2 



Guarding the German center, from 
Toulon west to Marseille and across 
the Rhone River delta, was Lt. Gen. 
Baptist Kniess' LXXXV Corps, with the 
338th and 244th Infantry Divisions. But 
by 15 August the 338th Division had 
already redeployed one of its regi- 
ments north and had pulled its re- 
maining units back to the Aries area, 
preparing to follow. Kniess' remain- 
ing unit, the 244th Division, was still 
relatively intact, but was repositioning 
itself to take over the 338th's area of 
responsibility. The unit commander 
was also charged with organizing the 
defense of Marseille and had no troop 
units to spare elsewhere. 

In the west the IV Luftwaffe Field 
Corps under Lt. Gen. Erich Petersen 
held the area between the Rhone 
delta and Spanish border. His major 



units were the 198th and 716th Infan- 
try Divisions and the weak 189th Reserve 
Division. One of the 189th's two infan- 
try regiments, the 28th Grenadiers, 12 
constituted Army Group G's reserve 
and was located north of the coast in 
the Carcassonne Gap area; the rest of 
the division was in the process of 
moving into the Rhone delta posi- 
tions vacated by the 338th. At the 
time, Wiese had also ordered Peter- 
sen to send the 198th Division east of 
the Rhone where it could serve as a 
reserve unit behind Kniess' coastal 
defenses. As a further precaution, 
Blaskowitz was transferring Army 
Group G's principal reserve unit, Maj. 
Gen. Wend von Wietersheim's 11th 



12 The German term grenadier signified a normal 
infantry unit. 



GERMAN PLANS AND ORGANIZATION 



67 




Maj. Gen. Wend von Wietersheim 

Panzer Division, 13 from the Toulouse 
area to the vicinity of Avignon, also 
east of the Rhone. Both Blaskowitz 
and Wiese considered the Marseille- 
Toulon region the most likely target 
of an Allied attack and were now hur- 
rying forces to the threatened sector. 



13 At the time the 11th Panzer Division had one bat- 
talion of heavy Mark V (Panther) tanks, one compa- 
ny of Mark IV mediums, one antitank battalion, four 
infantry battalions (motorized if not armored), an 
antitank battalion, an engineer battalion, and an ar- 
tillery regiment; it was slightly larger than an Ameri- 
can armored division except in the number, but not 
the size, of its tanks. "Remarks Concerning the War 
History of the Seventh U.S. Army," by the former 
operations officer of the 11th Panzer Division (unpa- 
ginated), John E. Dahlquist Papers, MHI. 



These movements were actually part 
of a more ambitious internal reorgani- 
zation conceived by Wiese. Since early 
August the Nineteenth Army commander 
had been expecting an Allied assault at 
any time, but the continued redeploy- 
ment of units northward forced him to 
alter his defensive dispositions regular- 
ly. The impending departure of the 
338th Division made yet another reshuf- 
fling necessary. But by 13 August 
Wiese had also concluded that the 
most likely area for an Allied assault lay 
east of Toulon, a prediction that 
agreed remarkably well with Allied 
plans. To meet this threat, he wanted 
to have his weaker 189th and 198th Di- 
visions assume responsibility for the 
static defenses of Toulon and Mar- 
seille, thereby freeing his two best 
units, the 242d and 244th Divisions, to 
act as mobile reserves. If these units 
could be further reinforced by the 11th 
Panzer Division, the Nineteenth Army 
might be able to give any invaders a 
real fight at the beachhead and buy 
time for a more determined defense of 
the larger ports and the Rhone valley. 
Although Hitler had ordered Wiese to 
have strong garrisons defend Toulon 
and Marseille to the death, most of the 
German defenses there faced seaward, 
and little had yet been done to fortify 
the land approaches to the two ports. 
The movement of the 189th and 198th 
Infantry and the 11th Panzers east of the 
Rhone was thus the first step of this 
larger internal redeployment. But 
Wiese needed time to complete the 
transfers, and the involved units would 
need additional time to organize their 
new positions and deploy their compo- 
nents in an orderly fashion. Yet, by the 
night of 14-15 August, the movement 
of the three divisions across the Rhone 



68 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



had barely begun and was being se- 
verely hampered by a lack of transpor- 
tation, by FFI mines and ambushes, 
and by something the German staffs 
had forgotten to consider, the com- 
plete destruction of the Rhone bridges 
by Allied air attacks. 14 How soon the 
units could' overcome these obstacles 
and reposition themselves was crucial 
to the German defense. 

Whatever happened, the effective- 
ness of the initial German response to 
any Allied landings west of Toulon 
would depend greatly on the actions 
of the LXII Corps already in place. At 
first glance the state of what was to 
be the principal German command 
and control organization in the 
beachhead area left much to be de- 
sired. The corps headquarters had 
been sitting at Draguignan, about 
midway between Toulon and the 
Cannes-Nice area, since late 1942, op- 
erating generally as a training and oc- 
cupation command. Although the 
headquarters had dropped its previ- 
ous "reserve" designation on 9 
August, the change in nomenclature 
was cosmetic, and the headquarters 
never acquired the staff sections and 
corps troops necessary for effective 
combat operations. OKH had almost 
retired General Neuling, the corps 
commander, for physical disability 
when his health broke down on the 
Russian front in the spring of 1942; 
and his two division commanders, 



"Report of Maj. Gen. Wend von Wietersheim, 4 
Jun 46, sub: 11th Panzer Division (unpaginated) 
(hereafter cited as "11th Panzer Division Rpt of MG 
von Wietersheim, 4 June 46,"), John E. Dahlquist 
Papers, MHI. Wietersheim commanded the panzer 
division at the time and noted the failure of the 
German command to anticipate the bridge problem 
in any way. 



Baessler for the 242d and Fretter-Pico 
of the 148th, were also combat fatigue 
cases from the Russian campaign, 
during which both had been relieved 
of division commands. However, 
Neuling's service and his reputation 
as a training officer had brought him 
the corps command in southern 
France, and all three generals had a 
wealth of military experience between 
them that could not be discounted. 

Of Neuling's two divisions, Baes- 
sler's 24 2d was the stronger. Its 918th 
and 917th Grenadier Regiments held the 
coast from the Toulon area east to 
Cape Cavalaire, which would consti- 
tute the western edge of the Anvil 
landing area. The division's third 
regiment, the 765th Grenadiers, de- 
fended the coastline northwest of 
Cape Cavalaire, a stretch that includ- 
ed most of the future Anvil assault 
beaches. Each regiment had the sup- 
port of a battalion of the 242d Artillery 
Regiment, as well as various naval artil- 
lery batteries, and each had an Ost 
unit as a fourth infantry battalion. Of 
the three grenadier regiments in the 
242d Infantry Division, the 765th was 
by far the weakest. Having just been 
formed in the spring of 1944, it was 
only partially trained. Its fourth bat- 
talion (the 807th Azerbaijani Battalion) 
was an Ost unit of doubtful reliability, 
while its other three battalions had a 
high proportion of ethnic Germans 
from the Sudetenland, Poland, 
Russia, and the Baltic states. At the 
time the only other unit in the future 
beachhead area was the 148th Divi- 
sions, 661st Ost Battalion, located just 
north of the 765th Grenadiers. How 
long these forces could effectively 
oppose a major assault was a question 
mark. 



GERMAN PLANS AND ORGANIZATION 



69 




Defensive Emplacement of a 65-mm. Italian Howitzer, Pointe de St. Pierre, Cape 
St. Tropez. 



Concerned with his weakness in the 
expected invasion area, Wiese direct- 
ed Neuling to move the 148th Divi- 
sion's reserves to the rear of the 
threatened zone. This reserve consist- 
ed of the division's incomplete third 
regiment — Regiment Kessler — an infan- 
try battalion from one of the divi- 
sion's full regiments, and a combat 
engineer battalion. But for unknown 
reasons, LXII Corps was slow to carry 
out the order; and the 661st Ost Bat- 
talion's controlling headquarters, the 
239th Grenadiers, together with the 
148th Division's other major units, the 
8th Grenadiers and Regiment Kessler, re- 
mained in the Cannes-Nice area far- 
ther north. In the initial defense the 
765th Grenadiers could thus expect 



little assistance from the 148th Divi- 
sion or anyone else. 

Accurately estimating total German 
strength in southern France on the 
eve of the landings is difficult. The 
two Nineteenth Army corps primarily 
concerned with the assault area, Neul- 
ing's LXII and Kniess' LXXXV, re- 
ported their corps and divisional 
strength as approximately 53,670 
troops, with an effective combat 
strength of 4 1,1 75. 15 These totals do 
not include Army Group G or Nineteenth 



15 In the German Army the term effective strength 
and combat effectives referred to soldiers serving at 
the combat battalion level and below. See James 
Hodgson, "Counting Combat Noses," Army Combat 
Forces Journal, V, No. 2 (September 1954), 45-46. 



70 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



Army units not under the control of 
the two corps headquarters, nor do 
they include naval and Luftwaffe orga- 
nizations stationed in the assault area. 
But even adding this non-corps ele- 
ments, it is doubtful that the Germans 
had as many as 100,000 troops there, 
and the total may well have been as 
low as 85,000 on 15 August. In addi- 
tion to the forces in the assault area, 
the German order of battle in the 
south still included the IV Luftwaffe 
Field Corps and the LXIV Corps, both 
west of the Rhone; the 11th Panzer Di- 
vision under the direct control of Army 
Group G; the 157th Reserve Mountain 
Division and many police and security 
units under Army Area Southern France; 
Ost Legion organizations not attached 
to regular formations; a host of naval 
and air force units outside the assault 
area; and a large number of army ad- 
ministrative and logistical units. 
Adding all these troops to those in 
the assault area, German strength in 
southern France as of 15 August 
probably amounted to somewhere be- 
tween 285,000 and 300,000 troops of 
all services and categories. By that 
time Wiese had been able to position 



approximately one-third of these 
forces at or near the expected inva- 
sion area west of Toulon. 

German dispositions along the spe- 
cific Anvil beaches were extremely 
weak on the eve of the assault. De- 
spite Wiese's reasonably accurate esti- 
mate of Allied intentions, the defend- 
ers were having severe difficulties 
strengthening the expected assault 
area and positioning their reserves for 
an effective counterattack. The com- 
mand structure in the region still left 
much to be desired, and the defend- 
ing troops were of a generally mixed 
caliber and stretched over a wide area 
with little depth. Much depended on 
how quickly Wiese could complete his 
current redeployment effort. Never- 
theless, the evening of 14 August 
found all elements of Army Group G on 
full defensive alert with Wiese desper- 
ately trying to accelerate the move- 
ment of his reinforcements from the 
west over the Rhone River. Aerial re- 
connaissance at dusk had reported 
the approach of Allied convoys from 
the direction of Corsica, and, ready or 
not, everyone realized that an inva- 
sion was imminent. 



CHAPTER V 



The Plan of Assault 



The choice of assault sites along 
the Mediterranean coast of France 
was in large measure dictated by the 
Anvil operational concept — to land in 
southern France, seize and develop a 
major port, and exploit northward up 
the Rhone valley. Of these objectives, 
none imposed more tactical limita- 
tions on the selection of the assault 
beaches than the requirement for the 
early seizure of a major port. From 
the inception of Anvil, Allied plan- 
ners regarded the capture of Mar- 
seille, one of France's major port 
cities, as vital to the success of the 
operation. Sete, eighty-five miles west 
of Marseille, or Toulon, thirty miles 
east of Marseille, or the many smaller 
harbors dotting the French Riviera 
could serve as interim ports, but only 
Marseille could handle the projected 
volume of logistical operations envis- 
aged for southern France. 

Selecting the Landing Area 

Washed by the waters of the Gulf 
of the Lion, the Mediterranean coast 
of France slopes on the east, along 
the Riviera, down to the waters of the 
Ligurian Sea. 1 Three major mountain 



masses, separated by natural corri- 
dors, rise inland from the coast (Map 



1 This subsection is based on Seventh Army Rpt, I, 
3-4, 27-30; Hamilton, "Southern France," chs. 2-3; 



3) On the west, the Pyrenees moun- 
tains, stretching from the Atlantic to 
the Mediterranean, form the tradi- 
tional boundary between France and 
Spain; on the east, the Alps serve a 
similar purpose, separating France 
and Italy and defining the Swiss 
border farther north. Between these 
two mountain ranges and about 
twenty to thirty miles inland rises the 
Massif Central, a large mountainous 
plateau region that dominates south- 
ern France. The Carcassonne Gap, a 
valley area formed by the tributaries 
of the Garonne and Aude rivers, sep- 
arates the Massif Central from the 
Pyrenees in the west; and the Rhone 
River valley similarly divides the cen- 
tral plateau area from the foothills of 
the Alps in the east. While the Car- 
cassonne Gap links the Riviera with 
the French Atlantic coast, the Rhone 
valley is the historic north-south cor- 
ridor of France. From Lyon, 170 
miles north of the Mediterranean, the 
valley provides access to northern 
France through the valley of the 
Saone River and to southwestern Ger- 
many through the Belfort Gap. 

WNTF Rpt Southern France, pp. 14-15; and WNTF 
Opn Plan 4-44, 24 Jul 44, Annex A, Characteristics 
of Theater and Enemy Strength. 




MAP 3 



THE PLAN OF ASSAULT 



73 



South of Lyon the Rhone flows 
through alternating steep-sided 
narrow valleys and more gently slop- 
ing basins. Some of the basins give 
way on the east to corridors penetrat- 
ing deeply into the Alps. At Avignon, 
some forty miles north of the Medi- 
terranean, the Rhone enters a broad 
delta that, with lowlands along the 
eastern shore of the Gulf of the Lion, 
forms an arc of flat, often marshy, 
stream-cut ground stretching from 
the Pyrenees almost to Marseille. 

The mountains east of the Rhone 
and south of Lyon consist of west- 
ward extensions of various Alpine 
ranges. Those close to the coastal 
area are loosely known as the Prov- 
ence or Maritime Alps. In addition 
there are two non-Alpine coastal hill 
masses northeast of Toulon, the 
Massif des Maures on the west and 
the smaller Massif de l'Esterel on the 
The Maures massif ex- 



(Map 4). 



east 

tends inland nearly twenty miles; the 
Esterel scarcely seven. The Argens 
River valley separates the Massif des 
Maures from the Provence Alps to the 
north and forms an inland east-west 
corridor, about fifty miles long, be- 
tween Toulon and St. Raphael on the 
Frejus gulf. From the town of Le Luc, 
in the center of the Toulon-St. Raph- 
ael corridor, another corridor leads 
west to Aix-en-Provence, twenty miles 
north of Marseille, and even farther 
to the Rhone delta in the region be- 
tween Marseille and Avignon. North- 
east of the Massif des Maures, the 
Massif de l'Esterel continues another 
ten miles to the vicinity of Cannes, 
east of which the rough Provence 
Alps drop sharply to the sea. 

Allied planners knew that the best 
beaches for amphibious assaults and 



over-the-beach supply operations lay 
near Sete, far to the west of Marseille, 
and along the coasts west and east of 
Toulon. But the beaches between 
Sete and Marseille were backed by 
marshes, streams and canals, and land 
that the Germans could easily flood; 
those between Marseille and Toulon 
were generally poor and known to be 
most heavily defended; and the 
shores from Cannes to the Italian 
border led only into the rugged Prov- 
ence Alps. Further investigation 
proved that the Sete area beaches 
would not fit all requirements. Off- 
shore conditions were poor and port 
facilities limited, while the terrain 
eastward would inhibit military move- 
ment. In addition, all of the beaches 
west of Toulon were either out of 
range or at the extreme range of the 
XII Tactical Air Command's bases on 
Corsica. 

Considering these factors, Allied 
planners quickly narrowed down their 
choices of a landing area to the coast- 
line between Toulon and Cannes. 
This selection presupposed that 
Toulon would be the Seventh Army's 
first port objective, and that Toulon 
would have to meet Allied logistical 
requirements until Marseille fell. But 
the planners also made note of many 
minor ports along the coastal stretch 
northeast of Toulon that might sup- 
plement over-the-beach supply oper- 
ations during the assault. The main 
ones were St. Tropez, on the narrow 
St. Tropez gulf about thirty-five miles 
northeast of Toulon; Ste. Maxime, on 
the same gulf five miles beyond St. 
Tropez; and St. Raphael, ten miles 
northeast of Ste. Maxime. 

The Anvil plan outlined by the 
AFHQ, on December 1943 had origi- 



74 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 




MAP ■/ 



nally designated the Hyeres Road- 
stead, about twelve miles east of 
Toulon, as the site for the main land- 
ings. At first glance, the AFHQ, selec- 
tion seemed logical. An open bay 
some ten miles wide, the area pre- 
sented flat, extensive beaches with 
fine gradients and easy exits. It lay 
close to Toulon, and its flat hinter- 
land was suitable for the rapid con- 
struction of airfields. One small oper- 
ational field was already available only 
ten miles north of the beaches. 



But further study convinced ground 
and naval planners that the Hyeres 
Roadstead was unsuitable. Both the 
roadstead and its beaches lay within 
easy range of German guns on the 
peninsulas flanking the bay or on the 
defended Hyeres Islands, the closest 
of which was only seven miles off- 
shore. The beaches were also within 
range of German heavy artillery at 
Toulon. Moreover, the restricted 
waters between the Hyeres Islands 
and the mainland severely narrowed 



THE PLAN OF ASSAULT 



75 



sea approaches to the beaches, which 
greatly complicated the projected 
naval bombardment and minesweep- 
ing operations, and in general caused 
a dangerous concentration of ship- 
ping in a fairly small area. 

With no choice but to look farther 
east and northeast, planners from 
Seventh Army and Western Naval 
Task Force settled on the shoreline 
extending from Cape Cavalaire, thirty 
miles east of Toulon, northeastward 
almost another thirty miles to Anth- 
eor Cove, about eight miles beyond 
St. Raphael. Closer than the Hyeres 
Roadstead to supporting Allied air- 
fields on Corsica, the Cape Cavalaire- 
Antheor Cove coast provided favor- 
able approaches from the sea, con- 
tained several strands well suited to 
over-the-beach supply operations, in- 
cluded the principal minor ports, had 
a tidal range of only six inches to one 
foot, and offered potential airfield 
sites. The coastal region and its im- 
mediate hinterland also provided an 
acceptable base area from which to 
launch attacks westward toward 
Toulon and Marseille. 

Despite these advantages, the Cape 
Cavalaire-Antheor Cove coast had 
several notable drawbacks. Its thirty 
miles of coastline, for example, trans- 
lated into over fifty miles of irregular 
shoreline. Moreover, the potential 
landing sites were only moderately 
good to poor, and were separated by 
cliffs and rocky outcroppings. Almost 
all were backed by precipitous, domi- 
nating high ground — the highest sec- 
tions of the Maures massif along most 
of the stretch, and the Esterel on the 
northeast. The Seventh Army would 
have to secure the high ground quick- 
ly to prevent the German Army from 



moving up reinforcements that might 
endanger the success of the landing 
or, at the very least, might occupy po- 
sitions isolating the beaches from the 
interior. No planner wanted a repeat 
of the problems faced during the 
Anzio landings earlier in the year. 

Beyond the beachline, more poten- 
tial hazards existed. Many prospective 
beaches lacked good exits, and most 
could be economically blocked by 
German defenders. The approaches to 
Toulon were also limited, threatening 
to channel the advancing ground 
forces into two easily interdicted ave- 
nues — one along the coast and the 
other in the Toulon-St. Raphael corri- 
dor. The narrow coastal road could be 
blocked at many points, and the sec- 
ondary highway between St. Raphael 
and Toulon was only marginally wider. 
Two railways — a narrow-gauge track 
skirting the beaches along the coast 
and the main standard-gauge line in 
the Toulon-St. Raphael corridor — 
added little; and the second- and third- 
class roads — many of which were in 
poor condition — that supplemented 
the main highways were often no more 
than a single lane wide and suitable for 
only light military traffic at best. 

Operational Plans 

The need to seize quickly the high 
ground that dominated the assault 
area, together with the requirement to 
develop supporting airfields rapidly, 
forced Seventh Army planners to map 
out a large projected beachhead area 
to be occupied as early as possible. 2 



2 This subsection is based on the following: Sev- 
enth Army FO 1, 29 Jul 44; French Army B, Person- 
al and Secret Memo on Opn Dragoon, 6 Aug 44; 



76 RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 




MAP 5 



The planned beachhead was to have a 
radius of roughly twenty miles from its 
center at Cape St. Tropez. On the 
southwest, the arc, or "blue line," 
began at the shores of the Hyeres 
Roadstead at Cape de Leoube, about 
eighteen miles southwest of Cape Ca- 
valaire, curved in-land to a depth of 
about twenty miles, and curved back to 
the beach at La Napoule, eight miles 
north of Antheor Cove (Map 5). The 
straight-line distance at the base of the 

VI Corps FO ], 30 Jul 44; 3d Inf Div FO 12, 1 Aug 
44; 36th Inf Div FO 53, 1 Aug 44; 45th Inf Div FO 
1, 2 Aug 44; 1st ABTF FO 1, 5 Aug 44; and Seventh 
Army Rpt, I, 57-60, 106-10, 118-19. 



arc, the beachline, was roughly forty- 
five miles. Within the beachhead area 
lay three-quarters of the Massif des 
Maures, the entire Esterel, and the 
northeastern part of the Toulon-St. 
Raphael corridor. The blue line passed 
close to Le Luc, near the middle of the 
corridor, and included important sec- 
tions of the main highways and rail- 
roads leading west and southwest 
toward Toulon, Marseille, and the 
Rhone River, as well as northeast 
toward Cannes and Nice. 

Army planners believed that this 
projected beachhead had sufficient 
depth to protect the landing sites 



THE PLAN OF ASSAULT 



77 



from long-range German artillery; 
provided space for support airfields 
and adequately dispersed supply 
dumps; and gave the initial Allied 
ground combat units — the U.S. VI 
Corps and the leading echelons of the 
First French Army — enough area in 
which to maneuver. Seizing the ter- 
rain within the blue line would also 
provide the Seventh Army with high- 
ground anchors for its flanks as well 
as dominating heights along which 
Allied troops could prepare defenses 
against German counterattack. Ens- 
conced along this high ground, Sev- 
enth Army forces could deny German 
access to the beachhead, while simul- 
taneously preparing to break out in 
the direction of Toulon and Marseille. 

After securing the landing beaches, 
the VI Corps had three primary mis- 
sions: occupy all the terrain within the 
blue line as quickly as possible; pro- 
tect the Seventh Army's right flank; 
and prepare to launch attacks to the 
west and northwest on order. Specific 
D-day tasks included capturing Le 
Muy, some ten miles inland along the 
Argens River valley west of St. Rapha- 
el; making contact with the 1st Air- 
borne Task Force in the vicinity of Le 
Muy; and moving out from both 
flanks of the beachhead to link up 
with French commandos, who were to 
land beyond the limits of the main as- 
sault beaches. 

The 1st Airborne Task Force and 
French commando assaults, as well as 
landings by the 1st Special Service 
Force, were to precede the VI Corps 
landings. Seventh Army plans had 
originally called for scattered para- 
troop drops; but, on the advice of 
Generals Frederick and Williams, re- 
spectively commanding the airborne 



"division" and the troop carrier air- 
craft, Patch agreed to concentrate the 
drops in the vicinity of Le Muy, where 
the paratroopers were to begin their 
jumps well before first light on D-day. 
The 1st Airborne Task Force's main 
mission was to prevent German 
movements into the beach area from 
the direction of Le Muy and Le Luc 
through the Argens River corridor. 
The paratroopers were also to clear 
the Le Muy area, securing it for sub- 
sequent glider landings. 

Colonel Walker's 1st Special Ser- 
vice Force was to land about midnight 
of 14-15 August on the two eastern- 
most Hyeres Islands, Port Cros and 
Levant. Lying just south of Cape Ca- 
valaire, the two islands were believed 
to shelter numerous German artillery 
batteries that controlled the ap- 
proaches to VI Corps' westernmost 
beaches. Their early capture was im- 
perative. 

Shortly after the 1st Special Service 
Force started ashore, the French Afri- 
can Commando Group was to make 
its assault on the mainland at Cape 
Negre, just north of the two islands 
and five miles west of Cape Cavalaire. 
After destroying any German coastal 
defenses in the area, the commandos 
were to establish roadblocks along the 
coastal highway, secure high ground 
up to two miles inland from the cape, 
and forestall any German efforts to 
move against VI Corps' beaches from 
the west. Meanwhile, at the opposite 
end of the beachline, the small 
French Naval Assault Group was to 
land at Trayas Point, about four miles 
northeast of Antheor Cove, and block 
the coastal highway on VI Corps' 
right, or northeastern, flank. 

H-hour for the main landings over 



78 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



the Cape Cavalaire-Antheor Cove 
beaches was set for 0800, consider- 
ably later than had been the case 
during earlier amphibious operations 
in the Mediterranean. The hour se- 
lected represented a compromise be- 
tween two conflicting demands. On 
the one hand, the preassault air and 
naval forces required sufficient day- 
light to permit observed and accurate 
bombardment of German beach de- 
fenses. But the landings also had to 
begin early enough to move sufficient 
troops and supplies ashore, establish 
a firm beachhead, and penetrate into 
the high ground behind the beaches 
to prevent a German counterattack. 

The landing plan originally agreed 
to by the Seventh Army and the 
Western Naval Task Force called for 
putting the 36th Infantry Division 
ashore on the left, the 45th in the 
center, and the 3d on the right. 3 This 
plan also allocated all of the larger 
amphibious assault vessels, such as 
LSTs, LCTs, and LCIs, to the 3d and 
36th Divisions, leaving the 45th Divi- 
sion to be loaded onto troop trans- 
ports and landed by small craft and 
amphibious trucks (DUKWs) over a 
number of small beaches along the 
northern and southern shores of the 
St. Tropez gulf. 

After VI Corps entered into the 
planning process, Patch's staff made 
several changes in the plan at the in- 
sistence of Truscott, the corps com- 
mander. Truscott wanted to land his 
most experienced division, the 3d, on 
the left so that he could quickly con- 



3 Subsequent information on the change of land- 
ing plans comes from WNTF Rpt Southern France, 
p. 18; Seventh Army Rpt, I, 46-48, 56-57; Truscott, 
Command Missions, pp. 388-91; and Hamilton, 
"Southern France," ch. 9. 



centrate it to form an offensive spear- 
head for a drive on Toulon. His least 
experienced unit, the 36th, he felt, 
should be put ashore on his right, 
giving the division a primarily defen- 
sive mission. Furthermore, he re- 
quested that his central division, now 
the 45th, be landed and concentrated 
in the vicinity of Ste. Maxime. Trus- 
cott also asked that the amphibious 
resources be more evenly distributed, 
allowing two regimental combat 
teams from each division to be landed 
by small amphibious craft and LSTs. 
Finally, he wanted the blue line 
pulled in slightly on the west, fearing 
that the original beachhead area 
would force him to overextend to the 
west and thus prevent him from mass- 
ing for an early drive on Toulon. 
Both Patch and Admiral Hewitt read- 
ily agreed to these modifications. 

Truscott was less successful in per- 
suading Hewitt to undertake oper- 
ations against German underwater 
obstacles believed to be in the land- 
ing areas. The corps commander re- 
quested that naval forces conduct a 
thorough reconnaissance of all beach- 
es before the assault, and destroy 
whatever obstacles might be discov- 
ered. Hewitt disagreed, judging that 
the great difficulties created by un- 
derwater obstacles during the Over- 
lord assault would not be a factor in 
Anvil. The scant tidal range along 
the Cape Cavalaire-Antheor Cove 
coast would not provide the Germans 
with the opportunity to construct 
such formidable obstacles as had the 
great tidal variations along the Nor- 
mandy beachheads. Hewitt also felt 
that a detailed preassault reconnais- 
sance would only risk revealing the 
projected landing sites. Thus he 



THE PLAN OF ASSAULT 



79 



turned down the request. 

Studying all available information, 
VI Corps, Seventh Army, and West- 
ern Naval Task Force settled on nine 
separate assault beaches for VI Corps. 
The nature of the terrain in the as- 
sault area, combined with known or 
suspected German defensive installa- 
tions and potential German routes of 
counterattack, resulted in an undesir- 
able but necessary separation of the 
assault beaches. Some, for example, 
were as much as eight miles from 
their nearest neighbor. Varying from 
80 to 4,500 yards in width, and from 
10 to 50 yards in depth, each beach 
presented individual problems. Nev- 
ertheless, Allied planners believed 
that they had no choice but to accept 
the risks such separations presented. 

On the left, the 3d Infantry Divi- 
sion was to land across beaches in the 
Cavalaire Bay-St. Tropez region. The 
division's first two regiments were to 
be put ashore in the Cavalaire Bay 
and St. Tropez areas, with the third 
regiment following in the Cavalaire 
Bay sector. Thereafter the division 
was to clear the St. Tropez peninsula, 
which separated Cavalaire Bay from 
the St. Tropez gulf; seize St. Tropez 
and the town of Cavalaire; secure the 
Cavalaire-St. Tropez road; and, upon 
corps orders, strike west toward the 
blue line and Toulon. 

The 45th Division in the center was 
also to send two regiments ashore in 
the assault, landing them abreast 
about two miles northeast of Ste. 
Maxime. Its third regiment was to 
follow the others ashore, but was to 
be committed only with Truscott's 
permission. On the morning of D-day 
the 45th was to capture Ste. Maxime 
and nearby high ground, move north 



and northeast to clear the shoreline 
and hills for two miles inland, and 
drive to the Argens River, about eight 
miles north of Ste. Maxime. 

On the right, the 36th Division was 
to land only one regiment at H-hour, 
putting it ashore on a broad beach- 
line about four miles east of St. Raph- 
ael, with one infantry battalion to 
make its assault at Antheor Cove, 
three miles farther away. A second 
regiment was to follow the first 
ashore over the beaches east of St. 
Raphael, while plans called for the 
third to land at 1400 farther west be- 
tween the mouth of the Argens River 
and St. Raphael. Planners estimated 
that elements of the 45th Division 
would be in position south of the 
Argens to support the 36th Division's 
last regiment in the Frejus gulf 
region. If for some reason it proved 
impossible to make the afternoon as- 
sault north of the Argens, the 36th 
Division's third regiment would also 
go ashore at the main landing beach- 
es to the east. 

The 36th Division's most pressing 
mission was to protect Seventh 
Army's right flank, a task that entailed 
a rapid drive to the northern end of 
the blue line at La Napoule. The divi- 
sion's other missions included seizing 
St. Raphael; capturing Frejus, two 
miles west of St. Raphael; advancing 
inland along the Argens valley to join 
elements of the 1st Airborne Task 
Force; and, if the airborne units were 
unable to do so, clearing Le Muy and 
its environs. 

Combat Command Sudre (CC 
Sudre) of the French 1st Armored Di- 
vision was to land on D-day over 36th 
Division beaches, assemble in the 
Frejus area, and prepare to strike 



80 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



westward through the Argens valley. 
Initially, the French armor was to 
serve as the VI Corps' reserve and ex- 
ploitation force. But before the end 
of July, Truscott had become dissatis- 
fied with arrangements for his control 
over CC Sudre, the only homogene- 
ous armored unit under his com- 
mand. 4 The First French Army 
expected the return of this brigade- 
sized armored force as soon as signifi- 
cant French forces were assembled 
ashore, probably by D plus 3. De 
Lattre wanted Sudre's armor to pro- 
tect the French right, or northern, 
flank during his subsequent attacks 
against Toulon and Marseille and to 
provide armored strength against any 
German panzer units that might 
counterattack the French. Since Sev- 
enth Army could not promise that VI 
Corps would retain CC Sudre past D 
plus 3, 5 Truscott decided on 1 August 
to organize a light mechanized 
combat command from American 
forces assigned to the VI Corps. The 
unit, later designated Task Force 
Butler (TF Butler), 6 included one cav- 
alry squadron, two tank companies, 
one battalion of motorized infantry, 
and supporting artillery, tank destroy- 
ers, and other ancillary forces. Trus- 
cott placed the provisional unit under 
Brig. Gen. Frederick B. Butler, the VI 
Corps deputy commander, and initial- 
ly viewed it as a substitute for CC 



4 Additional information about CC Sudre and TF 
Butler in this subsection is from Truscott, Command 
Missions, pp. 403-07; and de Lattre, History, pp. 55, 
74-75. 

5 By the same token, Patch would not promise de 
Lattre to return the CC Sudre to French control by 
D plus 3, as de Lattre had requested before the 
landings. 

G The official VI Corps designation for TF Butler 
was Provisional Armored Group, VI Corps. 



Sudre, assigning it the relatively limit- 
ed mission of assembling in the vicini- 
ty of Le Muy and preparing to attack 
either west or northwest on corps 
orders. In addition, its late organiza- 
tion precluded its loading as a sepa- 
rate entity, and the task force was not 
scheduled to be assembled at the 
beach area until D plus 2. 

If all went according to plan on D- 
day, the vanguard units of First 
French Army were to start landing 
over U.S. 3d Infantry Division beach- 
es on the VI Corps' left flank on D 
plus 1. The early arrivals were to in- 
clude the French 1st Infantry Divi- 
sion, the 3d Algerian Infantry Divi- 
sion (less one regiment), and the 
French 1st Armored Division (less CC 
Sudre and another combat com- 
mand). Plans also called for the 9th 
Colonial Infantry Division, with two 
Moroccan Tabor Regiments (light in- 
fantry) attached, to arrive by D plus 9, 
but the rest of the French II Corps, 
including the last elements of the 1st 
Armored Division, were not to reach 
southern France until D plus 25. 

After assembling on shore, the 
leading French units, strengthened by 
CC Sudre, were to pass through the 
VI Corps left wing and strike for 
Toulon, which Seventh Army hoped 
would fall by D plus 20, 4 September. 
Following the seizure of Toulon, the 
French were to move against Mar- 
seille, simultaneously preparing to 
strike northwest toward the Rhone at 
Avignon. Marseille, Allied planners 
estimated, would probably not be in 
French hands until D plus 40 to 45, 
or about 25 September: 

A final aspect of the Anvil ground 
plan concerned the French Forces of 
the Interior (FFI). Seventh Army, 



THE PLAN OF ASSAULT 



81 



acting in concert with General 
Cochet, the FFI director for southern 
France, and with Special Projects Op- 
erations Group at AFHQ, assigned 
the FFI a series of missions designed 
to hamper German movement into 
the Anvil assault area and to assist 
Allied advances throughout that area. 
First, FFI forces were to destroy 
bridges, cut railroad lines, and block 
highways. Next, they were to try to 
create major diversions inland in 
order to disperse or pin down 
German forces that might otherwise 
mass for counterattacks against the 
beachhead. Third, the guerrillas were 
to cut telephone and telegraphic 
communications systems throughout 
southern France. Fourth, the FFI was 
to attack German fuel and ammuni- 
tion dumps, sabotage German air- 
fields, and engage isolated German 
garrisons and small units. Finally, 
they were to prepare to conduct tacti- 
cal combat operations on the flanks of 
whatever routes the Allied assault di- 
visions might use in breaking out of 
the beachhead. 

Air and Naval Support Plans 

Although Allied planners were con- 
fident that German forces in southern 
France would be unable to prevent a 
successful lodgment along the Cape 
Cavalaire-Antheor Cove coastline, the 
planners also knew that the cost of 
the landing, as well as the speed of VI 
Corps' advance inland to the blue 
line, would depend largely upon the 
efficacy of the preassault air and naval 
bombardment. 7 The success of the 



French drives against Toulon and 
Marseille would likewise depend 
heavily on air and naval support. The 
most dangerous threat, however, was 
the ability of the German defenders 
to assemble enough forces for an ef- 
fective counterattack on the beach- 
head. The ultimate success of Anvil 
would thus hinge a great deal on the 
efforts of the air arm, with assistance 
from the FFI, to isolate the landing 
area. 

Air attacks at least indirectly related 
to Anvil had been under way for 
many months before 15 August as 
part of the Mediterranean Allied Air 
Forces' general program of oper- 
ations. Moreover, MAAF operations 
in support of Overlord, although de- 
signed mainly to slow German rede- 
ployments to northern France, also 
contributed to Anvil. However, from 
2 July to 5 August MAAF was able to 
devote relatively little effort to south- 
ern France because of the demands of 
ground operations in Italy as well as 
the priority given to strikes against 
German oil and rail facilities in east- 
ern and southeastern Europe. During 
July, air attacks over southern France 
were directed primarily against 
German naval installations at Toulon, 
various rail centers, and bridges over 
the Rhone and Var rivers (the latter 
between Cannes and Nice). At the 
same time, air operations in support 
of the FFI were stepped up. 

The first phase of an air campaign 
more directly associated with Anvil 
began on 5 August. From 5 to 9 
August, MAAF's primary missions 
were to neutralize Luftwaffe units in 



'This subsection is based on Seventh Army Rpt, I, WNTF Rpt Southern France; and Hamilton, 
45-56, 60-62, 101-05; AAF III, 416, 420-28; "Southern France," ch. 9. 



82 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



southern France and northwestern 
Italy, interdict German communica- 
tions between Sete and Genoa, and 
attack German submarine bases. From 
10 August to approximately 0350 on 
the 15th, MAAF was to pay special at- 
tention to German coastal defenses, 
radar stations, troop emplacements, 
and communications. This phase was 
to culminate on the 14th with espe- 
cially heavy attacks against overland 
communications and selected bridges. 
The final phase of the preassault 
aerial bombardment was to begin at 
first light (approximately 0550) on D- 
day and last until 0730. During this 
last effort air attacks were to be con- 
centrated against coastal guns, beach 
defenses, underwater obstacles, and 
troop installations. 

MAAF had adopted the program of 
bombing German coastal defenses in 
the Cape Cavalaire-Antheor Cove 
area before D-day with some reluc- 
tance. Air planners felt that, to ensure 
tactical surprise at the assault beach- 
es, the coastal bombardments should 
extend from the Spanish border all 
the way around to the Italian coast 
southeast of Genoa. General Eaker, 
commanding MAAF, believed that, in 
conjunction with the naval bombard- 
ment on D-day, air attacks could de- 
stroy all significant shore defenses in 
the assault area in less than two days, 
that is, D minus 1 and the morning of 
D-day. 

Both Patch and Truscott, con- 
cerned that surprise not be lost, were 
inclined to agree with Eaker's esti- 
mate. But Navy planners were not so 
optimistic. Admirals Cunningham and 
Hewitt, for example, felt that an air 
bombardment limited to D minus 1 
and D-day, even in conjunction with 



strong naval shelling, could not effec- 
tively neutralize German coastal de- 
fenses in the area. Instead, the Navy 
held that a more complete destruc- 
tion of German coast defenses, in- 
cluding radar installations, would at 
least partially compensate for the loss 
of tactical surprise. They also pointed 
out that concentrated air attacks on D 
minus 1 and D-day would probably 
alert the Germans to the location of 
the assault beaches in any case. More- 
over, a concentration of air effort in 
the Cape Cavalaire-Antheor Cove 
area on D minus 1 might start forest 
and supply dump fires, the smoke 
from which could obscure targets 
ashore for the crucial air and naval 
bombardments of D-day morning. 

Taking the Navy concerns into con- 
sideration, Seventh Army and MAAF 
agreed to stretch out the planned air 
campaign, with one proviso. To avoid 
the risk of disclosing to the Germans 
the selected assault beaches early in 
the game, Eaker insisted that his com- 
mand would divide its efforts more or 
less equally among four potential 
landing areas between 5 and 13 
August: Sete and vicinity, the Toulon- 
Marseille region, the Cape Cavalaire- 
Antheor Cove coastline, and the 
Genoa area. 

The D-day air and naval attacks 
presented some equally complex 
problems for the planners. To be ef- 
fective, the bombardments would 
have to start just after first light, but 
air strikes would have to cease early 
enough to allow smoke and dust to 
settle, thus providing better visibility 
for the final naval bombardment. In 
addition, the time allocated to naval 
gunfire could not be too long, for the 
naval forces in the Mediterranean 



THE PLAN OF ASSAULT 



83 



possessed but limited supplies of am- 
munition for their larger guns. Bom- 
bardment vessels would have to con- 
serve some ammunition to support 
operations ashore after the assault. 

Planners ultimately decided that the 
last concentrated air strikes should 
start at 0610 and end at 0730, when 
the naval gunfire support ships were 
to begin a final, drenching shelling of 
the assault beaches. From 0650 to 
0730 naval bombardment was to be 
limited to carefully selected targets in 
the assault area (and mainly to its 
flanks), and this was to be lifted when 
MAAF bombers were striking the 
beaches. Such an arrangement de- 
manded especially tight coordination 
of air and naval operations. From 
0610 to 0730 fighters and bombers 
were to give first priority to German 
artillery positions, and second priority 
to German installations that might 
block the advance inland. The air 
strikes were to give special attention 
to any German weapons that could 
not be reached by the relatively flat 
trajectory of naval gunfire. The half 
hour (0730-0800) left for the final 
naval bombardment was a consider- 
ably shorter period than normally 
needed for most amphibious assaults, 
especially in the Pacific, but the cir- 
cumstances of the Anvil assault left 
little choice. In effect, the concentrat- 
ed air bombardment early on D-day 
would have to substitute for more ex- 
tended naval gunfire. 

In addition to its responsibilities for 
landing and supporting the assault 
forces, Western Naval Task Force also 
had the mission of conducting a 
series of diversionary operations. 
Task Group 80.4, the Special Oper- 
ations Group, was to make two such 



efforts. Starting from Corsica on D 
minus 1, on a course headed toward 
Genoa, one section of the group was 
to swing northwest about midnight to 
create diversions in the Cannes-Nice 
area. MAAF planes, dropping various 
types of artificial targets, were to help 
the naval contingent to simulate a 
much larger force. A westerly naval 
unit, simulating a convoy twelve miles 
long and eight miles wide, was to op- 
erate meanwhile along the coast be- 
tween Toulon and Marseille. MAAF 
was to add to the confusion by drop- 
ping dummy parachutists in the same 
region. 

The final arrangements for air and 
naval bombardment, the selection of 
H-hour, and the type of landings thus 
represented marked departures from 
previous amphibious operations in 
the Mediterranean. Anvil's H-hour 
was considerably later than was usual 
in the Mediterranean, where previous 
landings had taken place under cover 
of darkness. But earlier assaults in the 
Mediterranean had been directed 
against unfortified and virtually unde- 
fended coasts. Accordingly, for the 
first time in Mediterranean experi- 
ence, planners had to arrange heavy, 
concentrated air and naval bombard- 
ment before H-hour on D-day. Final- 
ly, the air bombardment plan for D- 
day demanded that heavy bombers 
execute mass takeoffs during the 
hours of darkness, another first in the 
Mediterranean theater, in order to 
reach their objectives on schedule. 

Beyond D-day 

Until early August, the Seventh 
Army had no firm plans for the cam- 



84 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



paign following the seizure of the 
beachhead and the capture of Toulon 
and Marseille. The Anvil directive 
from AFHQ, directing Patch's forces 
to exploit northward up the Rhone 
toward Lyon was extremely vague. Es- 
timated German resistance, together 
with the logistical problems involved 
in supporting large forces in southern 
France until the port of Toulon at 
least became operational, made it 
appear that Seventh Army and First 
French Army forces would not be 
ready to strike north along the axis of 
the Rhone much before 15 October. 
In early June, well before Overlord 
began, Mediterranean planners be- 
lieved that it might even be mid-No- 
vember before Patch and de Lattre 
had control over the Rhone valley 
from the Mediterranean north to 
Lyon. More detailed plans for future 
operations therefore were not an im- 
mediate concern. 

But as June and July passed and 
Allied intelligence officers tallied the 
German withdrawals from southern 
France, prospects for more rapid 
progress grew accordingly. At AFHQ, 
Wilson foresaw a possibility that a 
weakened Army Group G, failing to 
contain Seventh Army's beachhead or 
to hold Toulon, would concentrate 
on the defense of Marseille and the 
approaches to the Rhone. In such a 
case, Army Group G might leave the 
area east of Marseille and the Rhone 
River valley nearly undefended. Avail- 
able information indicated that the 
Germans had only one understrength 
division scattered about this eastern 
flank area, a region where, the Allies 
knew, the FFI was strong and active. 

With this information, Wilson, on 
1 1 August, proposed two new courses 



of action. 8 First, he suggested that the 
Seventh Army could strike northwest 
directly from the beachhead to the 
Rhone north of Avignon, leaving only 
minimum forces in the Marseille area 
to secure the left and to contain 
German units in the Rhone delta. A 
second possibility was to strike gener- 
ally north from the beachhead 
through the Provence Alps toward the 
Grenoble area, over one hundred 
miles north of Toulon. 

Wilson apparently regarded the 
proposed thrust to Grenoble primari- 
ly as a means of protecting the Sev- 
enth Army's right flank and stimulat- 
ing FFI activity east of the Rhone. But 
Patch and particularly Truscott saw in 
Wilson's suggestions an opportunity 
to exploit whatever weaknesses might 
be found in German defenses be- 
tween the Rhone and the Italian and 
Swiss frontiers. For such purposes, 
Truscott already had an exploitation 
force available, TF Butler. Although 
he had originally planned to employ 
it only in a limited role, its missions 
could be easily expanded if the situa- 
tion warranted. 

The VI Corps commander subse- 
quently drew up tentative plans to 
rush TF Butler to the Durance River 
as soon as the force could assemble 
ashore. His plans allowed for two 
possible thrusts: one to cross the Dur- 
ance River and strike west for the 
Rhone near Avignon; or, alternatively, 
another to drive on north toward 
Grenoble. The latter maneuver, Trus- 
cott thought, could develop either 



8 Material on final operational planning is from 
Memo, SACMED to CG Seventh Army, 1 1 Aug 44, 
sub: Opn Dragoon; Min, SACMED (and AFHQ. 
Joint Ping Staff) Mtg, 10 Aug 44 (both in AFHQ. 
files); and Truscott, Command Missions, p. 407. 



THE PLAN OF ASSAULT 



85 



into a swing west to cut the Rhone 
valley between Avignon and Lyon, or 
into a drive through Grenoble to 
Lyon. With quick success by TF 
Butler, VI Corps would be in a posi- 
tion to outflank German defenses 
along the lower Rhone and to block 
an Army Group G withdrawal up the 
Rhone valley. But the feasibility of 
such projects depended on the speed 
with which the Seventh Army reached 
the blue line, the strength of opposi- 
tion in the beachhead area, and Army 
Group G's reaction to the Anvil as- 
sault. 

Allied Intelligence 

Because of the prodigious Allied in- 
formation collection effort, including 
the highly secret ULTRA intercept 
program, the Seventh Army had a 
reasonably accurate picture both of 
the organization and strength of the 
German forces in the Anvil assault 
area and of German deployments all 
along the Mediterranean coasts of 
France and Italy. 9 The main problem 
facing intelligence personnel was to 
keep up to date with the constant 
movement of German units in and 
out of southern France since Over- 
lord began. Due to the frequency of 
these movements, the Seventh Army 
did not have completely accurate in- 
formation on the specific location of 
German corps and division command 



'This subsection is based mainly on Seventh 
Army G-2 records, Jul-Aug 44; Annex 1, Intel, to 
VI Corps FO 1, 30 Jul 44, and Amend 1, 7 Aug 44; 
Annex \ Characteristics of Theater and Enemy 
Strength^ to WNTF Opn Plan 4-44, 24 Jul 44; and 
French Army B, Personal and Secret Directive No. 1 
on Operation Dragoon, 6 Aug 44, in Annex II of 
de Lattre, Histoire (French language edition). 



posts in the assault area; and informa- 
tion on units at and near the assault 
beaches, while generally correct, was 
sometimes erroneous in detail. De- 
spite these shortcomings, however, 
the information available was fairly 
complete and accurate. 

Seventh Army intelligence estimates 
placed German strength in the coastal 
sector from the Rhone delta east to 
the Italian border at approximately 
115,000 troops, a figure that was 
probably too high by at least 15,000. 
On paper, the Germans appeared to 
have sufficient force to put up a 
strong defense, but the Seventh Army 
knew that many German units were 
not up to strength and that many 
others were second-rate formations. 
German coastal defenses were known 
to be fairly strong in some locations 
but quite weak in others, and avail- 
able information indicated that the 
defenses lacked depth. Once Allied 
forces pushed through the narrow 
belt of German coastal defenses, Sev- 
enth Army planners felt that they 
would encounter few other prepared 
defensive installations except at 
Toulon and Marseille. Seventh Army 
intelligence estimated the German 
Toulon garrison at 10,000 troops and 
the Marseille defenders at 15,000 (ac- 
tually, the Germans had 13,000 men 
at Toulon and 18,000 at Marseille). 
The garrisons were known to include 
not only German Army infantry and 
artillery, but also engineer, antiair- 
craft, and fortress troops, communica- 
tions and supply units, and various 
naval personnel. 

The Allies also knew that there 
would be little danger from German 
air and naval forces. Anvil planners 
put Luftwaffe strength in southern 



86 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



France around 250 aircraft, of which 
less than two-thirds would be oper- 
ational on 15 August. Considering the 
demands of the current battles in 
northern France and Italy, they ex- 
pected that the Luftwaffe would not be 
able to send any significant reinforce- 
ments to southern France and that its 
operations during the landings would 
be limited to scattered torpedo- 
bomber attacks and some night mine- 
laying sorties, with fighters probably 
used for air defense only. 

Admiral Hewitt's staff considered 
German naval strength in southern 
France insignificant. With approxi- 
mately one destroyer, seven corvettes, 
five torpedo boats, five or six subma- 
rines, and miscellaneous small auxilia- 
ries — and it was doubtful that the 
destroyer or the submarines were 
operational — they deemed the Ger- 
mans incapable of significant offen- 
sive action at sea. 

The Allies had no expectation of 
achieving strategic surprise. Believing 
that German aerial reconnaissance 
would have discovered the obvious 
preparations for a major amphibious 
assault, they correctly estimated that 
the Germans would expect the attack 
to come along the French Riviera as 
opposed to the Atlantic or Ligurian 
coasts. On the other hand, Seventh 
Army hoped to achieve some degree 
of operational and tactical surprise 
concerning the exact time and place 
of the landings. But keeping the 15 
August target date a secret was diffi- 
cult. The need to coordinate FFI op- 
erations with the assault considerably 
increased the potential for compro- 
mising security, while the final air 
bombardment would also give away 
the time and place of the landings. 



But with the many deception efforts 
undertaken, the Allied planners felt 
reasonably confident that the Ger- 
mans would be unsure of the precise 
date and location of Anvil until 14 
August, and even then the defenders 
would not be completely certain until 
the Allied landing craft were actually 
sighted heading toward the shore. In 
addition, Seventh Army planners be- 
lieved that Army Group G would not be 
able to oppose the initial landings ef- 
fectively nor those of the French 
follow-up divisions. 

The main problem facing Allied in- 
telligence officers was ascertaining the 
German response once the Seventh 
Army was ashore. They estimated that 
neither OB West nor OB Southwest 
would be able to reinforce Army Group 
G after the Anvil assault. Neverthe- 
less, they believed that Army Group G's 
most probable course of action would 
be to try to contain the Allied beach- 
head by attempting to hold the Massif 
des Maures. But given the current 
disposition of German forces, Seventh 
Army also believed that the defenders 
would be unable to redeploy enough 
strength into the Maures to secure 
the range before French and Ameri- 
can forces could move inland and 
occupy the terrain. Faced with strong 
Allied forces in the hills above the 
beachline, the Germans would prob- 
ably fall back on the defenses of 
Toulon and Marseille. From Toulon 
the Germans could pose a serious 
threat to Allied lines of communica- 
tion, inhibiting all westward advances 
toward the Rhone valley. Moreover, 
the Germans undoubtedly recognized 
the logistical importance of the port 
cities to the Allies. The longer the 
Germans held on to Toulon and Mar- 



THE PLAN OF ASSAULT 



87 



seille, the more difficult it would be 
for the Seventh Army to project its 
combat power far from the landing 
beaches. 

Should the Germans fail to hold the 
two major ports for an extended 
period, Seventh Army planners esti- 
mated that Army Group G would with- 
draw up the Rhone valley, making 
temporary stands at successive delay- 
ing positions. However, they consid- 
ered it unlikely that the Germans 
would start withdrawing up the 
Rhone valley until Army Group G had 
begun to exhaust its defensive poten- 
tial in the coastal sector. This deple- 
tion, Seventh Army estimated, would 
probably not occur until the fall of 
Toulon, expected about 5 September. 

The Role of ULTRA 

During these discussions the Sev- 
enth Army intelligence staff undoubt- 
edly benefited greatly from the infor- 
mation derived from ULTRA, code 
name of the now Anglo-American op- 
eration for intercepting, decoding, 
and disseminating the radio commu- 
nications of the German high com- 
mand. Raw ULTRA information 
would in fact be available to the prin- 
cipal American commanders in south- 
ern France — Generals Devers, Patch, 
and Truscott 10 — and to their main 
staff officers throughout the entire 
campaign. When correlated with 
other intelligence, this data usually 
gave them a fairly good idea of the 
opposing order of battle, that is, the 



10 Although corps commanders were normally not 
privy to ULTRA information, Truscott had been a 
recipient during the Anzio campaign, and various 
references in his Command Missions indicate that he 
still received information via Patch. 



strength and location of the major 
German units opposing them. This 
picture, in turn, enabled them to have 
a better understanding of German 
military capabilities and intentions. In 
a few cases, ULTRA intercepts even 
provided Allied commanders with 
critical German orders almost before 
the designated recipients had received 
them in the field. 

ULTRA, however, also had its 
drawbacks and limitations. First, raw 
intelligence was often of limited value 
until it could be correlated with other 
information sources — prisoner of war 
reports, air reconnaissance, captured 
documents, and observations of tacti- 
cal ground units on the battlefield. 
Second, many key military decisions 
were made by the Germans during 
command conferences, and detailed 
plans were normally hand-carried by 
staff liaison officers, with little of this 
information ever being transmitted 
directly through wireless communica- 
tions. As a result, ULTRA was often 
mute regarding specific German in- 
tentions. In addition, both OKW and 
OB West, and even Hitler, sometimes 
gave field commanders a wide degree 
of latitude in carrying out their mis- 
sions (or sometimes orders were ig- 
nored), further reducing the value of 
ULTRA in revealing specific German 
operational and tactical intentions. Fi- 
nally, the time between the intercep- 
tion of a radio transmission and its 
arrival in a decoded, translated 
format at the field commands was 
normally about twelve to twenty-four 
hours, or longer depending on the 
significance of the message. For this 
reason ULTRA information was less 
useful during fluid combat situations; 
moreover, it was often only of limited 



88 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



value at division and lower echelons 
where highly perishable tactical intel- 
ligence often arrived too late to be 
significant. Thus, although ULTRA 
was of undisputed value in outlining 
the general German military situation 
on the battlefield, it in no way obviat- 
ed the need for Allied intelligence 
staffs to rely on a wide variety of in- 
formation sources concerning their 
opponents and to continue their tra- 
ditional but time-consuming analysis 
efforts to turn that information into 
intelligence useful to the operational 
and tactical commanders on the bat- 
tlefield. 11 



11 For background documents on ULTRA, see the 
NSA/CSS Cryptologic Documents collection in 
Record Group (RG) 457, NARA, especially SRH- 
023, "Reports by U.S. Army ULTRA Representa- 
tives with Army Field Commands in the European 
Theatre (sic) of Operations, 1945," Part II, Tab F, 
Memo, Maj Warner W. Gardner to Col Taylor, 
Office of the Military Attache, England, 19 May 45, 
sub: Ultra Intelligence at Sixth U.S. Army Group 
(hereafter cited as Gardner ULTRA Report); and 
Tab G, Memo, Maj Donald S. Bussey to Col Taylor, 
Office of the Military Attache, England, 12 May 45, 
sub: Ultra and the U.S. Seventh Army (hereafter 
cited as the Bussey ULTRA Report). A large though 
incomplete collection of the messages that had first 
been encoded by the German ENIGMA enciphering 
machine and then intercepted, decoded, and trans- 
lated by the Allied ULTRA intelligence-gathering 
program has been published by the British Public 
Records Office and is available at the U.S. Army 
Military History Institute, Carlisle Barracks, PA, on 
microfilm, but without any finding aids. The data 
does not show interception date-time groups for the 
original ENIGMA intercepts, and thus messages 
cited from this collection note only the sequential 
decoding number and date-time group of the trans- 
mission of the decoded, translated message to the 
field. However, since decoded intercepts were sent 
directly from England to special communications 
units (SCUs) in the field and passed directly to spe- 
cial liaison units (SLUs) on the staffs of the major 
commands for limited dissemination, and since the 
SCUs and SLUs destroyed all copies of these 
records almost immediately, it is virtually impossible 
for the historian to document the arrival of specific 
messages and ascertain their disposition. Interv, 
Clarke with Col Donald S. Bussey (Ret) (the former 



Finally, to put ULTRA in perspec- 
tive, the contribution of the Office of 
Strategic Services (OSS) intelligence 
networks established in southern 
France under Henry Hyde should also 
be noted. Based in French North 
Africa, Hyde's organizing effort began 
approximately one year before the in- 
vasion; the final OSS network includ- 
ed about 2,500 intelligence agents 
throughout the area held by Army 
Group G. These agents usually com- 
municated information on German 
military forces to the central OSS 
headquarters in North Africa through 
an extensive and elaborate secret 
radio system, and smuggled maps, 
overlays, sketches, drawings, photo- 
graphs, and similar material through 
Spain. Hyde himself worked closely 
with the Seventh Army G-2 (assistant 
chief of staff for intelligence), Col. 
William W. Quinn, and Quinn even 
made special arrangements so that he 
could receive OSS reports at sea 
during the voyage to the assault area. 
From these agent reports, the Sev- 
enth Army was able to piece together 
an even more detailed picture of 
German dispositions and strength. In 
fact, on 13 August, just before the 
actual landings, a French OSS agent, 
bicycling from Cannes to Hyeres, 
made a final survey of the landing 



Seventh Army SLU chief), 19 Aug 87; interv, Alex- 
ander S. Cochran, Jr., with Bussey, "Protecting the 
Ultimate Advantage," Military History Magazine (June 
1985), 42-47 (original draft of interview at CMH); 
and Funk, "Intelligence and Operation Anvil/Dra- 
goon." A good secondary treatment of ULTRA is 
Ralph Bennett, Ultra in the West (New York: 
Scribners, 1980), which supplements the official 
British Intelligence in the Second World War, III, Part 2, 
by F. H. Hinsley et al. (London: HMSO, 1988). 
Both cite ENIGMA date-time groups for the inter- 
ception of key ULTRA messages, information that is 
currently still unavailable to the general public. 



THE PLAN OF ASSAULT 



89 



areas; the report was quickly cabled 
to Quinn aboard the Seventh Army's 
command ship, making any last- 
minute surprises on the assault beach- 
es extremely unlikely. Later, at the re- 
quest of Patch and Quinn, the OSS 
assigned intelligence teams (from the 
Strategic Services Section, or SSS) to 
each of the American combat divi- 
sions, and the organization continued 
to provide order-of-battle information 
to the Seventh Army staffs through- 
out the ensuing campaign. 12 ULTRA 
was thus only one of many Allied in- 
telligence sources used by the Sev- 
enth Army, and only in extremely 
rare instances would it provide infor- 
mation that could not have been ob- 
tained elsewhere. 

Final Assault Preparations 

Because the Seventh Army did not 
gain control over most Anvil ground 
assault units until late June — and 
some French units not until late 
July — the time available for final 
training, rehearsals, loading, and lo- 
gistical preparations was limited. 13 On 
the other hand, many of the assault 
units already possessed ample am- 
phibious experience, and most of the 
remainder had acquired extensive 



12 On supporting OSS operations, see U.S. War 
Department, The Overseas Targets: War Report of the 
OSS (Office of Strategic Services), II (New York: Walker, 
1976), 166-77 183, 187-90, 200, 204-05, 223-48; 
MS, William J. Casey, "Up the Route Napoleon," 
pp. 3-10 (copy at CMH; hereafter cited as Casey 
MS); Casey, The Secret War Against Hitler (Washing- 
ton, D.C.: Regnery Gateway, 1988), pp. 133-37. Bi- 
cyclers with similar tasks were undoubtedly touring 
all possible Mediterranean landing sites to provide a 
cover for the actual reconnaissance. 

"This section is based primarily on Seventh Army 
Rpt, I, 71-89; WNTF Rpt Southern France, pp. 
166-73; and TF 87 Rpt Southern France, p. 1. 



combat experience in Italy, all of 
which eased the compressed tactical 
planning, training, and loading re- 
quirements. 

Anvil training emphasized amphib- 
ious loading and unloading proce- 
dures including small craft embarka- 
tion and debarkation, ship and vehicle 
loading, the operations of joint Army- 
Navy fire control parties, the tactical 
command and control problems pecu- 
liar to assault landings, and other re- 
lated matters. Special attention was 
also given to the destruction of un- 
derwater and beach obstacles. In ad- 
dition, the estimated strength of 
German beach defenses demanded 
that some sort of armored support 
move ashore with the assault waves. 
Lacking "amtracks" — the armored, 
tracked landing vehicles that played a 
critical role in most Pacific amphibi- 
ous assaults during World War II — 
the Seventh Army had to train select- 
ed elements of medium tank battal- 
ions in the operation of the floatable 
but less stable duplex-drive (DD) 
tanks available in the European thea- 
ter. 14 The assault plan called for each 



14 Amtracks included landing vehicles, tracked 
(LVTs), and landing vehicles tracked, armored 
(LVT[A]s); with their high freeboard, they were cru- 
cial for the Pacific Ocean assault beaches, which 
normally exhibited much greater wave turbulence 
than those located on the European coasts. Not as 
satisfactory at sea but better once ashore, the DDs 
were Sherman medium tanks that achieved flotation 
by means of heavy canvas coverings attached to the 
lower hull. Raised mechanically, the coverings per- 
mitted the DD tanks to disgorge from LCTs and 
make their way shoreward, using propellers attached 
to standard truck differentials (and mounted on the 
tank's sprocket hubs) to move the cumbersome ve- 
hicles through the water. Since these machines were 
especially vulnerable to underwater mines or obsta- 
cles that could put holes in the canvas coverings, 
their crews were trained in the use of the Monsen 
Lung, a submarine escape device. 



90 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 




45th Infantry Division Troops Load Up at Bagnoli, Italy, August 1944. 



division to set eight DDs ashore at 
the time of or immediately after the 
first landing waves. 

Much of the training for the assault 
units took place at Seventh Army's In- 
vasion Training Center near Salerno, 
Italy, although the 3d Division ran its 
own school at Pozzouli. Participating 
in the training and directing most of 
the final phases were elements of 
Western Naval Task Force. The three 
VI Corps divisions undertook final re- 
hearsals along the Italian coast be- 
tween 3 1 July and 6 August. Although 
the training of the tactical ground 
units was fairly complete and realistic, 
the lack of time made it impossible to 
undertake more than token unload- 



ings of vehicles and cargo, while 
some landing ships and other vessels 
reached the Mediterranean so late 
that they could not participate in the 
final rehearsals. In addition, although 
MAAF aircraft undertook limited air 
support operations, training staffs 
were unable to incorporate naval gun- 
fire into the rehearsals, and the nine 
days remaining between the comple- 
tion of the rehearsals and the assault 
were not enough for extended cri- 
tiques and remedial instruction. How- 
ever, the previous experience of most 
VI Corps units in amphibious oper- 
ations had to substitute for more ex- 
tended training. 
The 1st Special Service Force start- 



THE PLAN OF ASSAULT 



91 




Anvil Convoy En Route to Southern France, August 1944 



ed its training in early July south of 
Salerno, emphasizing the use of 
rubber assault boats, scaling of cliffs, 
and attacks on fixed defenses. The 
force undertook final rehearsals on is- 
lands off the Italian coast during the 
night of 7-8 August — rehearsals that, 
Colonel Walker later reported, were 
far more rugged than the actual as- 
saults on the Hyeres Islands. The 
French commandos received similar 
training elsewhere. 

Many paratroop elements of the 1 st 
Airborne Task Force had received re- 
fresher training on Sicily during May, 
and thus preassault preparations fo- 
cused on unit training, with special at- 
tention to ground tactical operations. 
A shortage of parachutes in the thea- 
ter precluded final rehearsal jumps, 



but all glider units undertook at least 
one flight and landing. The entire 
task force limited its final rehearsal to 
a ground exercise near Rome, and 
completed its preparations for Anvil 
by 12 August. 

Final loading and staging for all 
seaborne elements began on 8 
August. Most VI Corps assault units 
loaded at Naples and Salerno, but CC 
Sudre of the French 1st Armored Di- 
vision came from Oran in North 
Africa. The French 1st Infantry Divi- 
sion and the 3d Algerian Infantry Di- 
vision staged at Brindisi and Taranto, 
ports on Italy's heel, as did a few 
smaller French units. The 9th Coloni- 
al Infantry Division and a Moroccan 
Tabor regiment boarded ship from 
Corsica, and most MAAF units staged 



92 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



on Corsica. The rest of First French 
Army, scheduled to arrive much later, 
was to be shipped from Italy and 
North Africa. 

The loading from scattered ports, 
the need to keep shipping within 
range of land-based air cover, the 
varying speeds of the vessels of the 
assault convoys, naval diversionary 
operations, and the pre-H-hour as- 
saults by the 1st Special Service Force 
and French commandos combined to 
force Western Naval Task Force to 
set up a complex convoy schedule. 
Each separate group of ships and 
landing craft had to move along care- 
fully prescribed routes to make the 
rendezvous with other groups at se- 
lected times and points. All VI Corps 
assault units aboard LCTs and LCIs, 
together with the 1st Special Service 
Force on American APDs and British 
LSIs, also had to complete their final 



staging on Corsica. 

The final D-day convoys comprised 
approximately 885 ships and landing 
craft sailing under their own power. 
On the decks of this armada were 
loaded nearly 1,375 smaller landing 
craft. Exclusive of naval crews, the con- 
voys carried roughly 151,000 troops 
and some 21,400 trucks, tanks, tank de- 
stroyers, prime-movers, bulldozers, 
tractors, and other vehicles. Included 
in these totals were about 40,850 men 
and 2,610 vehicles of the First French 
Army that were to start unloading on D 
plus 1 . After a few minor problems in 
the final loading and departures, Ad- 
miral Hewitt was able to report that 
"all convoys sailed as planned without 
incident and rendezvous were effected 
as scheduled." 15 



15 WNTF Rpt Southern France, p. 173. 



PART TWO 



THE CAMPAIGN FOR 
SOUTHERN FRANCE 



CHAPTER VI 

Isolating the Target Area 



The first task of the Anvil invaders 
was in some ways the most difficult. 
Transporting over 100,000 men 
across hundreds of miles of ocean 
and depositing them on a small 
number of beaches in a specific order 
in the space of about a dozen hours 
was no small accomplishment, even if 
there had been no hostile resistance. 
Yet it was during this period that the 
invading force was the most vulnera- 
ble. Although German weakness at 
sea and in the air made the sea jour- 
ney a fairly administrative affair, the 
diverse capabilities of the German 
forces in southern France guaranteed 
that the reception of the Seventh 
Army divisions would not be so pas- 
sive. Mines, coastal artillery, and 
radio-controlled air-to-surface missiles 
were only the initial concerns. A de- 
termined German counterattack at the 
beachline could prove disastrous, 
while the interdiction of the beach 
exits and the arrival of strong 
German forces, including artillery, on 
the surrounding hills could be equally 
fatal. 

Although Allied intelligence had 
pointed out the disabilities of the 
German defenders, there was always 
the chance that ULTRA or the other 
intelligence sources had missed some 



critical last-minute German troop de- 
ployment and that the assaulting 
force might be in for a surprise. How 
fast, for example, could Blaskowitz 
move the vaunted 11th Panzer Division 
to the beachhead area? The Germans 
had defended all previous Allied land- 
ings on the Continent with great 
vigor, and there was no indication 
that they were about to change their 
policy in this regard. For this reason, 
the Anvil commanders knew it was 
crucial to interdict German movement 
into the planned beachhead area with 
any and all means available. Without 
a successful lodgment, the Seventh 
Army would be unable to make ad- 
vances toward Toulon, Marseille, 
Lyon, or anywhere else. 

Prior to the actual landings, the pri- 
mary Allied objective was therefore to 
neutralize the projected landing areas 
by making it as difficult as possible 
for Army Group G to reinforce their 
beach defenses or interfere with the 
Allied advance to the blue line. To 
this end the Allies sought to immobi- 
lize the German defenders through- 
out southern France in every way pos- 
sible. This task was the common 
objective of the Allied air and naval 
campaigns in southern France, the 
FFI ground operations there, and, 



96 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



closer to the beachhead, the activities 
of the airborne, ranger, and naval as- 
sault forces. 

The French Forces of the Interior (FFI) 

Overlord had provided a great 
stimulus to the FFI in southern 
France, and during June and July the 
southern FFI grew stronger and 
bolder as German fortunes waned. 1 
With Army Group G dispatching unit 
after unit northward to Normandy 
and concentrating much of its remain- 
ing strength along the coasts, the FFI 
took control over large areas of 
southern France, posing serious 
threats to Army Group G's two most 
important overland lines of communi- 
cation, the Carcassonne Gap and the 
Rhone valley. As a result Army Group 
G had to assign an increasingly large 
number of tactical units to keep the 
gap open, and had to take even more 
drastic steps against FFI units threat- 
ening the upper Rhone valley. 

One FFI force even established an 
open resistance government in the 
rugged uplands known as the Ver- 
cors, southwest of Grenoble, and 
marshaled a standing army of some 
6,000 armed men to defend it. 
Coming out of the mountains to 
harass German traffic along the 
Rhone valley, these FFI forces, acting 
in concert with other guerrillas north 
of Lyon and in the Massif Central 



'This section is based on Hamilton, "Southern 
France," ch. 8; and von Luttichau, "German Oper- 
ations," ch. 6, "The French Resistance Movement." 
For detailed coverage of FFI activities throughout 
the southern France campaign, see Arthur L. Funk's 
forthcoming Special Operations and the Invasion of 
Southern France: SOE, OSS, and French Resistance Coop- 
eration with the U.S. Seventh Army, January-September 
1944. 



west of the Rhone, threatened to 
block the river valley. Alarmed by this 
threat, the Germans moved against 
the FFI concentration in late July with 
a force that included approximately 
thirteen battalions of infantry, a para- 
chute battalion, a tank battalion, and 
supporting artillery. In the ensuing 
action, and in related expeditions 
north of Lyon and into the Massif 
Central, the Germans secured the 
Rhone valley, although they were 
unable to destroy the highly mobile 
French guerrillas. On the contrary, 
Army Group G soon found that its 
focus on the Rhone valley area only 
made it possible for the FFI to ignite 
countless brush fires throughout the 
rest of the region. 

Sabotage rapidly increased far 
beyond the capacity of Army Group G 
to halt or control it, or even to keep 
up with the growing repair and recon- 
struction tasks. For example, between 
1 and 15 August, the FFI cut rail lines 
in the Carcassonne Gap and Rhone 
valley over forty times and, during the 
same period, destroyed or severely 
damaged thirty-two railroad and high- 
way bridges in southern France, most 
of them east of the Rhone. The FFI 
also established an almost daily 
schedule for cutting both under- 
ground and overhead telephone and 
telegraph lines; after 6 August Army 
Group G's telephone, telegraph, and 
teletype communications with its 
forces on the Atlantic coast and with 
OB West were, at best, sporadic. Be- 
cause of interference from the moun- 
tains of southern France, radio 
proved an ineffective substitute, and 
Army Group G often found it easier to 
maintain wireless communication with 
Berlin than with OB West near Paris. 



ISOLATING THE TARGET AREA 



97 



Meanwhile, the FFI had become so 
aggressive that Army Group G was able 
to move only large, well-protected 
convoys along the highways and rail- 
roads of southern France, and had to 
increase the number of guards at 
supply dumps, bridges, and head- 
quarters installations. By 7 August the 
situation had reached the point where 
General Blaskowitz, commanding 
Army Group G, reported that the FFI 
no longer constituted a mere terrorist 
movement in southern France, but 
had evolved into an organized army 
at his rear. By 15 August the FFI had 
virtual control over southern France 
except for the Carcassonne Gap, the 
Rhone valley, and narrow strips along 
the Atlantic and Mediterranean 
coasts. Although lacking the strength 
to stand up to the larger conventional 
German forces, the FFI severely limit- 
ed the mobility of Army Group G. 

Air and Naval Operations 

While the FFI accelerated its activi- 
ties, Mediterranean Allied Air Forces 
(MAAF) began a widespread air inter- 
diction campaign against the German 
land communications networks, fol- 
lowed by concentrated attacks against 
specific targets in the coastal areas. 2 
By 15 August the MAAF had de- 
stroyed almost all important rail and 
highway bridges over the Rhone, Dur- 
ance, and Var rivers, leaving intact 
only two or three highway bridges 
that were incapable of bearing heavy 
military traffic. From 10 August to 
0550 on D-day, MAAF flew some 



2 This section is based on Hamilton, "Southern 
France," ch. 11; Seventh Army Rpt, I, 101-05; AAF 
III, pp. 420-26; and WNTF Rpt Southern France. 



5,400 sorties and dropped over 6,400 
tons of bombs on German coastal de- 
fenses from Sete to Genoa. Beginning 
at 0550 on D-day, MAAF planes flew 
900 fighter-bomber and 385 medium- 
and heavy-bomber strikes against 
German positions in Seventh Army's 
assault area. Danger to Western Naval 
Task Force (WNTF) vessels close to 
shore somewhat curtailed the pre-H- 
hour air strikes in the area of the 36th 
and 45th Infantry Divisions' assault 
beaches, for low overcasts that ex- 
tended out to sea obscured both the 
beaches and the offshore shipping. 
Therefore, although the air interdic- 
tion effort proved highly successful, 
the air attacks against German coastal 
artillery emplacements were less ef- 
fective. 

The results of the naval bombard- 
ment were also mixed. Before 0730, 
spots of low overcast, combined with 
smoke and dust raised by the air 
bombardment, forced naval gunships 
to resort to unobserved fire at many 
points. After 0730 visual conditions 
improved, and the support ships were 
able to move shoreward, concentrat- 
ing observed fire against the landing 
beaches. At 0750 naval fire shifted to 
the flanks of the beaches, thereby 
helping to isolate the individual land- 
ing areas. Combined with air bom- 
bardment, the final naval shelling was 
generally effective in neutralizing the 
major beach defenses and in destroy- 
ing underwater and beach obstacles 
or cutting paths through these obsta- 
cles. On the other hand, neither air 
nor naval bombardments detonated 
most beach-laid mines or mines laid 
in shallow water just offshore. WNTF 
ocean minesweepers began oper- 
ations about 0300 on D-day, but 



98 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



found no mines in the deep waters off 
the assault beaches or off the Hyeres 
Islands. Shallow-water minesweepers, 
operating closer to the beaches, 
cleared only a few mines and were 
unable to sweep the last 100 yards to 
the shoreline. 

Guide boats that marked the trans- 
port assembly and unloading areas 
began taking station offshore about 
0300, followed shortly by ships and 
landing craft bearing VI Corps assault 
units. Meanwhile, transport planes 
carrying the 1st Airborne Task Force 
had long since taken off from airfields 
near Rome and were winging their 
way toward the Le Muy drop zones; 
subsidiary operations of the 1st Spe- 
cial Service Force and French com- 
mandos had been under way for 
nearly three hours. 

Rangers and Commandos 

Task Force 86, with troops of the 
1st Special Service Force and the 
French African Commando Group 
aboard, left Corsica on the morning 
of 14 August and hove to about five 
miles southeast of Levant island 
shortly after 2200. 3 At 2300 1st Spe- 
cial Service Force troops began dis- 
embarking from APDs and LSIs into 
rubber assault boats, which LCAs and 
LCPRs then towed shoreward. Shortly 
after midnight the leading waves, car- 
rying scouts and security detachments 
to serve as guides for the main eche- 
lons, started toward the islands. Cut- 
ting their tows 750 to 1,000 yards off- 



3 Material on the seizure of Levant and Port Cros 
is from TF 86 Action Rpt Southern France; 1st Sp 
Serv Force Unit Jnl, 14-17 Aug 44; and 1st Sp Serv 
Force After Action Rpt (AAR), Aug 44. 



shore, these detachments landed on 
Levant and Port Cros just after 0030, 
and the main assault waves arrived 
one hour later. 

The 1st Regiment, 1st Special Ser- 
vice Force, went ashore near the 
northeast corner of Port Cros, while 
the 2d and 3d Regiments made their 
assault along the eastern shore of 
Levant. Despite the fact that the small 
garrisons on both islands expected an 
attack, the Germans offered no oppo- 
sition to the landings, and tactical 
surprise was complete. In both cases 
the American rangers had deliberately 
landed under broken, rocky cliffs 
rising vertically forty to fifty feet 
above the water, which apparently the 
German defenders had seen no 
reason to secure. 

Landing on Levant to the 2d Regi- 
ment's right, the 3d Regiment imme- 
diately swung northeast to take out a 
battery of German artillery emplaced 
at the island's northeast corner. 
Clearing its area of responsibility 
before 0630, the 3d Regiment found 
only cleverly camouflaged dummy ar- 
tillery pieces. Meanwhile, the 2d Regi- 
ment had struck southwest, discover- 
ing German resistance centered in 
ruined fortifications and monastery 
buildings in the west-central section 
of the island. Most of the Germans 
surrendered during 15 August, and 
all fighting was over on Levant by 
2030 that evening. The task had cost 
the 1st Special Service Force about 10 
men killed and 65 wounded, for ap- 
proximately 25 German soldiers killed 
and 1 10 captured. 

On Port Cros, also scheduled to fall 
on D-day, operations did not go ac- 
cording to plan. Initially the 1st Regi- 
ment encountered little opposition 



ISOLATING THE TARGET AREA 



99 



and by 0630 had secured the eastern 
quarter of the island. But the German 
garrison withdrew to prepared posi- 
tions in thick-walled old forts and in 
an old chateau at the island's north- 
west corner. Infantry assaults against 
the structures proved useless and air 
and naval fire support ineffective — the 
8-inch shells fired by the heavy cruis- 
er USS Augusta during the afternoon 
simply bounced off the walls, and the 
rockets and light bombs that MAAF 
planes directed against the forts early 
on the 17th proved equally innocu- 
ous. Finally, late on the morning of 
the 1 7th, twelve rounds from the 15- 
inch guns of the British battleship 
HMS Ramillies convinced the Germans 
that further resistance was futile. The 
capture of Port Cros cost the 1st Spe- 
cial Service Force 5 men killed and 10 
wounded, while the Germans lost 10 
killed and 105 captured. 

At Cape Negre the French African 
Commando Group encountered con- 
siderably more difficulty gaining the 
shore than the American rangers. 4 
The vessels carrying the French force 
broke off from the rest of Task Force 
86 at 2155 on the 14th and started 
the commandos shoreward about 
2230. Plans called for two LCAs to 
land some sixty commandos on a 
rocky, cliff-faced beach at the south- 
eastern corner of Cape Negre at 



"Material on the African Commando Group's op- 
erations is mainly from the following: Groupe de 
Commandos d'Afrique, Compte-Rendu d'Opns, 15- 
24 Aug 44; Georges R. Bouvet, "Un Debarquement 
de Commandos (Nuit du 14 au 21 Aout 1944): I'O- 
peration du Cap Negre," in Revue Militaire ({'Informa- 
tion, No. 152 (April 1950), 15-20, and No. 153 (May 
1950), 13-20; TF 86 Action Rpt Southern France; 
TG 86.3 Action Rpt Southern France; 7th Inf Jnl, 
15 Aug 44; 7th Inf S-3 Rpt 1, 16 Aug 44; and Sev- 
enth Army Rpt, I, 108. 



0045. Meanwhile, a lone scout was to 
go ashore to mark landing sites for 
the main body at Rayol Beach, two 
miles east of Cape Negre; at 0050 two 
ten-man parties would follow to 
secure the rocky points off both 
flanks of Rayol Beach, and at 0100 
the main force would land. 

Chance and human error quickly 
upset these elaborate plans. A light 
westerly current pushed the leading 
Cape Negre craft off course, while a 
low haze made it impossible for cox- 
swains to identify landmarks. The 
LCAs that followed also drifted to the 
west, with the result that all of the 
groups ended up landing a mile or so 
west of their objectives. But despite — 
or perhaps because of — the mixups, 
the commandos had a surprisingly 
easy time once ashore; several of the 
scattered teams caught the Germans 
completely unawares. The comman- 
dos on Cape Negre quickly overran 
some artillery emplacements, 5 cleared 
five or six pillboxes or bunkers, and 
by daylight had established a strong 
roadblock on the coastal highway at 
the inland base of the cape, turning 
back a German counterattack at 1100. 
Meanwhile, those landing to the east 
of Cape Negre cleared the Rayol 
Beach area and established a second 
block on the coastal road. About 



5 The commandos had landed expecting to find 
two to four coast defense guns in the 150-mm. to 
167-mm. caliber range. But, as far as can be ascer- 
tained from official records and Bouvet's account, 
they actually found two empty emplacements that 
were probably alternate positions for 105-mm. artil- 
lery of the 242d Division. Jacques Robichon's The 
Second D-Day (New York: Walker, 1969) claims that 
three guns were destroyed at Cape Negre, one 
three-inch and two six-inch (pp. 112-13); but this is 
based primarily on interviews and differs from offi- 
cial records in many details. 



100 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 




Cape Negre 



1300, troops of the 7th Infantry, 3d 
Division, reinforced the commandos 
at the roadblock. 

In the meantime a third group of 
commandos had struck out north of 
the beach toward the town of La 
Mole, over three miles inland. Scat- 
tered German troops offered some 
resistance along the way, but by 1215 
the commandos had cleared the town 
and had captured a battery of artillery 
emplaced on high ground nearby. 
Elements of the 7th Infantry reached 
La Mole shortly after 1630. 

On the far right (northeastern) 
flank of the Seventh Army's assault 
area, the attempt by the French Naval 
Assault Group to complete the isola- 



tion of the main beaches encountered 
severe difficulties. 6 Carried forward 
from Corsica aboard PT boats, the 
sixty-seven men of the French Naval 
Assault Group started ashore from 
rubber assault boats about 0140, dis- 
embarking on a rocky shore at Deux 
Freres Point, a mile south of 
Theoule-sur-Mer. But as the naval 
troops started inland toward the 
coastal road, a quarter-mile away, 
they walked into an extensive mine- 
field only recently emplaced. The first 
detonation caused several casualties 



6 Information on the French Naval Assault Group 
operations is from Groupe Naval d' Assault de 
Corse, Compte-Rendu d'Opns; TG 80.4 Opns Rpt 
Southern France; and 141st Inf Jnl, 16 Aug 44. 



ISOLATING THE TARGET AREA 



101 



and alerted the Germans; at daylight, 
still trapped in the minefield, the 
French group was forced to surren- 
der. 7 Nevertheless, although the naval 
soldiers had failed to establish a 
blocking position along the coastal 
road, their activities, along with those 
at Cape Negre, diverted German at- 
tention away from the main landing 
area. 

The 1st Airborne Task Force 

The paratroopers of the 1st Air- 
borne Task Force had mixed success, 
and their assault was accompanied by 
the initial confusion that characterized 
most Allied airborne efforts during 
the war. 8 Trouble began as the lead- 
ing troop carrier aircraft came in over 
the coast of southern France and pre- 
pared to drop pathfinder teams that 
would mark the drop zones for the 
main force of paratroopers. The 
pilots found the area around Le Muy 
completely obscured by ground fog 
up to 800 feet thick, forcing them to 
drop the teams using only rough 
navigational estimates. Such dead 
reckoning inevitably led to error and 
was compounded when some planes 
went farther off course while attempt- 



7 On 16 August, after elements of the 36th Infan- 
try Division located some survivors, the roster of the 
French Naval Assault Group stood at 10 men killed, 
17 wounded (and recovered), 28 missing (and pre- 
sumed taken prisoner), and 12 unscathed (and re- 
covered); two days later 6 of the missing turned up, 
leaving the total casualty list at 49 of the 67 who 
had landed. 

8 This section is based on AAF III, pp. 427-31; 
G-3 AFHQ, Rpt on A/B Opns in Dragoon; and the 
official records of the 1st ABTF, the 517th Prcht 
RCT, the 509th Prcht Inf Bn, the 550th Gli Inf Bn, 
and the 1st Bn, 551st Prcht Inf. For a popular treat- 
ment, see William B. Breuer, Operation Dragoon: The 
Allied Invasion of the South of France (Novato, Calif.: 
Presidio, 1987). 



ing to find breaks in the inland fog. 
In the end, of the nine pathfinder 
teams that started dropping about 
0330 on 15 August, only three, all 
from the British 2d Independent 
Parachute Brigade, landed in their 
proper drop zones. Two American 
teams landed on the northern slopes 
of the Esterel, thirteen miles east of 
Le Muy; another dropped into hill 
country eight miles east of the town; 
and three more, which landed closer 
to Le Muy, were unable to orient 
themselves on the ground until dawn. 

The lack of pathfinders and the 
continued poor visibility over the 
drop zone severely hampered the 
main airborne assault. The pilots fer- 
rying the 509th Parachute Infantry 
Battalion and the 463d Parachute 
Field Artillery Battalion, the first siza- 
ble American units to drop, found no 
signals from the ground to guide 
them to the proper zone, which was 
centered in broken, partially wooded 
terrain about two miles southeast of 
Le Muy. Again using blind navigation, 
one group of aircraft of the 509th's 
serials sent two companies of para- 
chute infantry and two batteries of ar- 
tillery groundward over the correct 
drop zone at 0430. A second group of 
planes, however, strayed off course 
and dropped one infantry company 
and two artillery batteries into the 
hills south of St. Tropez, nearly fif- 
teen miles southeast of Le Muy. In 
toto, only about half the 509th's bat- 
talion combat team landed in or close 
to its proper drop zone. 

As the night wore on, the confusion 
grew worse. None of the troopers of 
the 517th Parachute regimental 
combat team landed on their assigned 
drop zones, which were centered on a 



102 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



flat, cultivated area over two miles 
west of Le Muy. Exiting from their 
planes about 0435, most of the sol- 
diers from the 1st Battalion, 517th In- 
fantry, were scattered from Trans-en- 
Provence, four miles northwest of Le 
Muy, to Lorgues, six miles farther 
west. Much of the regiment's 2d Bat- 
talion landed one or two miles north- 
west of Le Muy in the vicinity of La 
Motte, but about a third of the battal- 
ion's paratroopers found themselves 
on rising ground east and northeast 
of the town. The 3d Battalion of the 
517th dropped along an east- west line 
almost six miles long and about 
twelve to fourteen miles northeast of 
Le Muy, while approximately a bat- 
tery of the regiment's 460th Para- 
chute Field Artillery Battalion landed 
in rising ground just northwest of 
Frejus, some twelve miles southeast 
of its assigned drop zone. Still others 
were blown far and wide in ones and 
twos and, outside of a few that landed 
in the ocean, many had difficulty later 
reconstructing exactly where they had 
first touched down. 

With two of its three pathfinder 
teams operating their ground radar 
sets to mark the drop zones, the Brit- 
ish 2d Independent Parachute Bri- 
gade did a little better. Starting the 
assault about 0450, half of the 4th 
Parachute Battalion, one company of 
the 5th Parachute Battalion, and the 
bulk of the 6th Parachute Battalion, 
totaling something less than two- 
thirds of the brigade, landed in cor- 
rect drop zones. Most of the remain- 
ing paratroopers were scattered over 
a wide area roughly nine miles north- 
east and northwest of Le Muy. 

Once on the ground the paratroop- 
ers tried to regroup as quickly as 



possible. Most of the 1st and 2d Bat- 
talions, 517th Parachute Infantry, 
managed to reach their assigned as- 
sembly areas shortly after dawn on 15 
August, and the British troops who 
had landed near Callas marched to 
their proper area later in the morn- 
ing. But the bulk of the American and 
British troopers who had landed out- 
side of the immediate Le Muy area 
were unable to join their parent units 
until D plus 1, and the 1st Airborne 
Task Force did not collect the last 
scattered elements of the parachute 
drop until D plus 5. A later count re- 
vealed that less than 40 percent of the 
paratroopers of the predawn lifts 
landed in the assigned drop zones, 
and by 0600, as dawn arrived, only 
about 60 percent of the men of the 
first parachute lifts had been assem- 
bled in the Le Muy area. 9 

Follow-up parachute and glider 
landings were scheduled to start at 
0815 on 15 August, when gliders were 
to bring in artillery and antitank units 
of the 2d Independent Parachute Bri- 
gade. But fog still blanketed the land- 
ing areas north of Le Muy when the 
planes towing the brigade's gliders ar- 
rived. The aircraft, without cutting 
their tows, thereupon turned back to 
their Rome area airfields; ultimately 
they returned to release the gliders in 
the Le Muy area about 1800. The land- 
ings of other gliders carrying elements 
of the 1st Airborne Task Force head- 
quarters and support troops were de- 
layed about an hour, and did not start 
until about 0930. The 1st Battalion, 



9 The situation described here contrasts with the 
statement in AAF III, p. 428, that only 20 of the 
nearly 400 aircraft assigned to the parachute oper- 
ation missed the proper drop zones by "an appre- 
ciable distance." 



ISOLATING THE TARGET AREA 



103 




American and British Paratroope 

551st Parachute Infantry, jumped with- 
out incident into the 517th regiment's 
drop zone beginning at 1810, as 
planned, while the 550th Infantry Air- 
borne Battalion came in via gliders at 
1830, also on schedule. Other units 
that came in by glider late in the day — 
such as the 602d Glider Field Artillery 
Battalion — likewise landed on or near 
schedule. 

The Germans had planted anti- 
glider obstacles throughout much of 
the Le Muy area, mostly using stakes 
about twelve feet tall and six inches 
thick, dug at least two feet into the 
ground. In some cases these sticks, 
deliberately sunk shallow and loose 
by French workers, served mainly as 
breaking power for the gliders, but in 
most instances the stakes snapped off 



> Take a Short Break, D-day 1944. 

the gliders' wings, caused ground 
loops, and otherwise made a sham 
bles of the glider landing zones. More 
trouble stemmed from the fact that 
the first gliders to arrive set down in 
the best and clearest areas instead of 
in their assigned zones; as later 
groups arrived, they found the best 
spots already packed with grounded 
gliders, thus forcing the pilots to 
select less desirable, rougher areas. In 
the end, only 50 of some 400 gliders 
used in the airborne operation were 
salvageable. Fortunately, damage to 
cargo and passengers was minimal — 
only about 80 incapacitating casual- 
ties among the paratroopers and 
about 150 among the troops who 
came in by glider, not counting 16 
glider pilots killed and 37 injured. 



104 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



The total of about 230 jump and 
glider casualties represented only 2.5 
percent of the nearly 9,000 airborne 
troops who arrived in southern 
France on D-day. Thus by 1900 on 
the 15th, D-day evening, about 90 
percent of the troops and equipment 
borne by gliders were ready for 
action. 

Fortunately for the paratroopers 
who landed early, German resistance 
was light, and, except in Le Muy 
proper, the troopers experienced only 
a few minor skirmishes as they moved 
to assembly areas and objectives. By 
the time German reinforcements 
began to trickle in late in the day, the 
paratroopers had secured high ground 
along both sides of the Argens River 
east of Le Muy, had occupied hills 
overlooking the Toulon-St. Raphael 
corridor in the vicinity of Les Arcs, five 
miles west of Le Muy, and had cleared 
several small towns of German troops. 
A formal juncture with the main 
ground forces began that night about 
2030 when troops of the 509th Para- 
chute Battalion met a patrol from the 
45th Division's reconnaissance troop. 

Le Muy itself remained in German 
hands for the time being. The com- 
mander of the 2d Independent Para- 
chute Brigade judged that the scat- 
tered drop, together with the initial 
failure of the gliders to land his artil- 
lery and antitank weapons, left him 
insufficient strength to launch an 
attack against what appeared to be a 
strongly defended town. However, 
except for the seizure of Le Muy, the 
1st Airborne Task Force had executed 
its D-day missions, establishing strong 
blocking positions along the Argens 
valley and further isolating the beach 
area. The scattered parachute drop 



had not appreciably affected the 1st 
Airborne Task Force's operations and 
may, on the contrary, have created di- 
versions that helped confuse the 
German reaction to both the airborne 
and amphibious assaults. 

Complementing the air, naval, 
guerrilla, commando, and parachute 
operations was a series of widespread 
deception efforts associated with 
almost every aspect of Anvil. For ex- 
ample, in the weeks immediately pre- 
ceding the invasion, the OSS and FFI 
had established dummy broadcast cir- 
cuits and inserted an ever-increasing 
stream of false messages into their 
radio nets to mislead any German lis- 
teners regarding the focus of the 
Allied intelligence-gathering effort, 
thereby concealing the general land- 
ing area. The air attacks that were 
spread out along the coasts of south- 
ern France and northwestern Italy 
served the same purpose. On the eve 
of D-day, the Allies also arranged for 
the appearance of dummy, booby- 
trapped paratroopers, air-released 
strips of tin foil, and paraded a small 
boat flotilla past Marseille to simulate 
an invasion. To the east, another 
mock invasion fleet by U.S. Navy PT 
boats and other small craft led by Lt. 
Cmdr. Douglas E. Fairbanks (USNR), 
a well-known American cinema star, 
steered past Genoa and caused a 
ruckus near Cannes. However, al- 
though Radio Berlin later announced 
that the German garrison at Marseille 
had repulsed a major Allied invasion, 
neither the German radar operators 
nor the German commanders were 
taken in by these last-minute ruses. 10 



10 See Morison, The Invasion of France and Germany, 
pp. 249-50; Casey MS, pp. 2-3. 



ISOLATING THE TARGET AREA 



105 



The First German Reactions 

For the Germans, the first confir- 
mation that a major Allied assault was 
imminent came about 2330 on 14 
August, when ships of the Western 
Naval Task Force bombarded shore 
installations in the Marseille area, and 
MAAF planes began dropping dummy 
parachutists in the same region. 11 
Nineteenth Army staff officers first 
thought that the main Allied assault 
might come over beaches in the vicin- 
ity of Marseille, but the diversionary 
operations deceived the Germans for 
less than an hour. Next, reports fil- 
tered into the Nineteenth Army head- 
quarters that attempted Allied land- 
ings at Cape Negre and on the 
Hyeres Islands had been repulsed. 
However, not until 0600 on the 15th 
did coastal defense units report that 
Allied troops were actually ashore on 
the mainland, and even these mes- 
sages noted only that German forces 
were containing assault forces at Cape 
Negre. 12 

German intelligence regarding the 
airborne assault was not much better. 
News of the approach of troop carrier 
aircraft reached Nineteenth Army head- 
quarters at Avignon and Army Group G 
at Toulouse about 0430 on the 15th 
from OB Southwest in Italy, and pre- 
liminary reports concerning parachute 



11 This section is based primarily on von Lutti- 
chau, "German Operations," chs. 9 and 10. 

12 Times given in German sources are an hour 
later than those used in this text. In August the 
Germans operated on Zone A time, Central Europe- 
an Standard Time or British single daylight saving 
time, while the Allies operated on Zone B time, 
British double daylight saving time. The time differ- 
ence sometimes causes confusion, but insofar as 
possible the text transliterates German times into 
the Allied clock. 



drops near Le Muy began arriving at 
Avignon around 0600. Meanwhile, 
both wire and radio communications 
began breaking down throughout the 
Nineteenth Army's, area, and General 
Wiese, the army commander, contin- 
ued to receive most of his informa- 
tion about the airborne operation 
through OB Southwest channels. Not 
until nearly 1030 on D-day did Wiese 
obtain local confirmation of the air 
drop. 

One major reason for the delay was 
that the 1st Airborne Task Force had, 
as an unexpected consequence of its 
scattered drop, isolated General Neul- 
ing's LXII Corps headquarters at Dra- 
guignan, seven miles northwest of Le 
Muy, and the paratroopers had cut all 
wire communications within sight. As 
a result, Neuling soon lost contact 
with both Nineteenth Army and his two 
infantry divisions, although apparent- 
ly he was able to direct the 148th In- 
fantry Division to start its reserves 
toward Le Muy before his headquar- 
ters was completely cut off. Had 
Neuling carried out the Nineteenth 
Army'?, orders of 13 August to move 
the division's reserves into the Argens 
valley between Le Muy and St. Raph- 
ael, the task of the airborne force 
might have been much tougher. 

Communications were much the 
same at Army Group G headquarters. 
Shortly after 0800 on the 15 th the 
telephone lines between Army Group G 
at Toulouse and Nineteenth Army at 
Avignon went out, probably as the 
result of FFI sabotage. Radio commu- 
nications between the two headquar- 
ters were also unsatisfactory during 
the day, and most of the information 
that General Blaskowitz, commanding 
Army Group G, obtained on the 15th 



106 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



actually came from OB West headquar- 
ters near Paris, relayed there from the 
coastal area through German naval 
communications. 

Out of touch with both Army Group 
G and the LXII Corps, General Wiese 
of Nineteenth Army had to act quickly 
and independently. Before the sun 
was well up, he had decided that the 
main threat lay in the Le Muy-St. 
Raphael region. The Allied airhead at 
Le Muy would make it relatively easy 
for Allied ground units to push inland 
from likely assault beaches in the 
Frejus-St. Raphael area, and would 
severely hamper his ability to assem- 
ble blocking or counterattacking 
forces in the Toulon-St. Raphael 
(Argens River) corridor just north of 
the Maures massif. Accordingly, 
Wiese's first priority was to find and 
assemble enough forces to clear the 
paratroopers from Le Muy as rapidly 
as possible. 

Early on the morning of the 15th, 
Maj. Gen. Richard von Schwerin, 
commanding the 189th Infantry Divi- 
sion, had arrived at the 338th Infantry 
Division headquarters in Aries, on the 
Rhone River some twenty miles south 
of Avignon. A few days earlier, when 
the 338th Division was still scheduled 
to redeploy to Normandy, Nineteenth 
Army had directed the 189th Division 
to take over the 338th'?, sector astride 
the Rhone delta and to assume con- 
trol of the 933d Grenadiers, 244th In- 
fantry Division, which was moving into 
that portion of the 338th's sector ex- 
tending from the Rhone east to the 
vicinity of Marseille. News of the inva- 
sion prompted OB West to cancel the 
338th Division's redeployment north- 
ward, an action that enabled Wiese to 
hand von Schwerin the task of com- 



manding the Nineteenth Army's coun- 
terattack forces. About 0900 von 
Schwerin moved to the LXXXV Corps 
command post about fifteen miles 
east of Avignon (and about seventy- 
five miles west of Le Muy), with 
orders to take command of a provi- 
sional division that Wiese was trying 
to assemble for the effort. 

The provisional organization was to 
consist of the 189th Division headquar- 
ters (von Schwerin' s original com- 
mand); an understrength regimental 
combat team built around the 932d 
Grenadiers of the 244th Division; the 
headquarters of the 189th Division's 
15th Grenadiers, controlling a total of 
three infantry battalions from the 189th 
and 338th Divisions; the 198th Division's 
305th Grenadiers, which was still west of 
the Rhone; and, for artillery, the 
Luftwaffe's 18th Flak Regiment. Wiese di- 
rected von Schwerin to assemble and 
take charge of all or any of these units 
that were immediately available and 
mount a counterattack toward Le Muy 
from the vicinity of Vidauban, in the 
Toulon-St. Raphael corridor about 
eight miles southwest of Le Muy, in 
order to destroy the Allied airhead and 
to assist the presumably trapped LXII 
Corps forces at Draguignan. 

The first unit von Schwerin could 
find was the regimental headquarters 
of the 15th Grenadiers, which had ar- 
rived from west of the Rhone during 
the morning. He quickly dispatched 
the unit sixty-five miles farther west 
to Le Luc, some six miles west of Vi- 
dauban, to act as an assembly control 
command. He then drove on to Vi- 
dauban himself, where he found a few 
service troops of the 242d Division as 
well as headquarters personnel of the 
18th Flak Regiment, but no firing bat- 



ISOLATING THE TARGET AREA 



107 



teries. Moving on to Le Luc, he found 
that the command elements of the 
932d Grenadiers had arrived, but the 
unit's infantry battalions were still 
straggling eastward. It was now mid- 
afternoon and the only effective 
combat unit von Schwerin had under 
his command in the forward area was 
the assault company from his own di- 
vision headquarters. 

Meanwhile, events had moved so 
rapidly that the Nineteenth Army was 
about to change von Schwerin's 
orders. Wiese had learned that for the 
time being the LXII Corps headquar- 
ters was safe at Draguignan. However, 
his fear of a quick thrust up the 
Argens valley toward Le Muy by 
Allied troops now known to have 
landed near St. Raphael was becom- 
ing more pressing. Wiese thus direct- 
ed von Schwerin to ignore Draguig- 
nan, and instead to push through the 
Allied paratroopers around Le Muy 
and then sweep down the Argens 
valley to turn back into the sea what- 
ever Allied forces might have landed 
in the Frejus-St. Raphael region. 

By the time von Schwerin had re- 
ceived and digested these orders, 
dusk was upon him, and the only ad- 
ditional combat strength that he had 
been able to assemble near Vidauban 
were parts of two battalions of the 
932d Grenadiers. With little more than 
the equivalent of a disorganized regi- 
ment at his disposal, von Schwerin 
decided to ignore Wiese's new direc- 
tive and continue preparing for an 
attack toward Le Muy and ultimately 
Draguignan to relieve the LXII Corps 
headquarters. 



About the same time that von 
Schwerin started to go off on his own, 
the 148th Division, evidently having 
received new orders from either the 
LXII Corps or the Nineteenth Army, fi- 
nally began moving a force equivalent 
to an infantry battalion (probably part 
of Regiment Kessler) toward Draguig- 
nan. Near Fayence, twelve miles 
northeast of Le Muy, the 148th Divi- 
sion's unit ran intp trouble when it 
was halted by strong elements of the 
FFI, reinforced by British paratroop- 
ers who had landed in the Fayence 
area by mistake. 

In the end, all German attempts on 
15 August to mount a counterattack 
against the landing area failed and, 
for at least the first day, the Allied 
beaches appeared safe from outside 
interference. In the interior, the 
Allied deception operations, the air 
attacks against the Rhone bridges, 
and continued FFI operations against 
German communications made a 
quick response to the initial Allied air 
and sea assault difficult. Closer to the 
beachhead area, the French comman- 
dos and the American and British 
paratroopers had positioned them- 
selves astride the main avenues of ap- 
proach leading to the landing beaches 
from the west, effectively isolating the 
beachline. Meanwhile the main assault 
force, which had started ashore over 
the Cape Cavalaire-Antheor Cove 
beaches about 0800 on 15 August, 
was encountering unexpectedly weak 
opposition and had begun to pene- 
trate inland faster and with greater 
strength than most planners had ever 
dared to hope. 



CHAPTER VII 



The Anvil Beachhead 



On the transport and fire support 
ships offshore, first light on 15 
August revealed a clear, calm Medi- 
terranean day. Although cool at first, 
variable light surface breezes prom- 
ised that temperatures ashore would 
rise sharply during the morning. 
Coastward, a bank of mist, thickening 
inland into the fog that had helped 
scatter the paratroopers, partially ob- 
scured the beaches, leaving only the 
forbidding peaks of the Maures and 
the Esterel clearly visible. As the fog 
began to dissipate after sunrise at 
0638, smoke and dust from air and 
naval bombardment continued to 
keep the coastline hazy, and visibility 
dropped to as little as fifty yards off 
several assault beaches for a while. 
Despite all the information supplied 
by the vast Allied intelligence effort, 
no one could be certain of what 
German defenses were hidden by that 
late summer veil. 1 



1 The principal sources for coverage of U.S. Army 
operations in this chapter are the official records of 
HQ. VI Corps and the 3d, 36th, and 45th Infantry 
Divisions and their component or attached units. 
Naval source materials include the WNTF Rpt 
Southern France; N-2 Section, Eighth Fleet, Survey 
of Assault Beaches, Invasion of Southern France; 
and the AARs of TF 84, TG 84.1, TF 85, TU 85.15, 
TG 85.6, TG 85.7, and TF 87. Information on 
German activities derives mainly from von Lutti- 
chau, "German Operations," ch. 9. 



The 3d Division Lands 

The first objective of the 3d Infan- 
try Division was to secure the squat 
St. Tropez peninsula on the left, or 
southwestern, section of the Anvil 



beachline {Map 6) The area was de- 
fended by the fourth, or Ost, battalion 
of the 765th Grenadier Regiment (242d 
Division), supported by two field artil- 
lery battalions and one coast artillery 
battery. Seventh Army planners had 
chosen two beaches for the 3d Divi- 
sion's assault: one on the southern 
base of the peninsula off Cavalaire 
Bay, and a second at the head of the 
peninsula just south of St. Tropez. 
Temporarily, the northern side of the 
peninsula, including the narrow St. 
Tropez gulf, would be avoided. 

The 3d Division's southernmost 
beach was Alpha Red, located on the 
shores of Cavalaire Bay. The landing 
area consisted of low, mostly bare 
sand dunes backed by a narrow band 
of pines twenty to thirty yards deep. 
The coastal road, N-559, 2 lay beyond 



2 During the period covered by this volume, main 
French highways and roads had two designations, N 
for National and D for Departmental. The N high- 
ways correspond roughly to U.S. interstate highways 
and the D roads to state routes. Other classifications 
for lesser roads existed, but are rarely used in this 
work. 



110 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



the pines, while the narrow-gauge 
railroad that skirted the coast ran par- 
allel to N-559, swinging inland near 
the center of Alpha Red. Cultivated 
fields lay beyond the eastern half of 
the beach; and on the west, rocky, 
pine-clad foothills rose just inland. 
On the left, Route N-559 passed by 
the resort town of Cavalaire-sur-Mer 
and wound south and southwest 
along the coastal hills to Cape Negre, 
six miles away; on the right, the coast- 
al route turned north at the eastern 
edge of the beach, cutting through 
the lightly wooded, low hills along the 
inland base of the St. Tropez penin- 
sula for about six miles to the oppo- 
site side of the cape. 

About six miles northeast of Alpha 
Red, at the end of the peninsula, lay 
the 3d Division's other assault beach, 
Alpha Yellow. The landing area of- 
fered over two good miles of excel- 
lent beach on which the entire 3d Di- 
vision could easily have landed. But 
exits were poor. A narrow, one-lane 
road that might not hold up under 
heavy military traffic led north to St. 
Tropez, and there was no direct route 
west across the peninsula to Route 
N-559. 

Alpha Red was the assault beach 
for the 3d Division's 7th Infantry regi- 
ment. The regimental left was to 
drive inland about two miles to secure 
dominant high ground and then push 
southwestward along the coast via 
N-559 toward Cape Negre. The 
center was to advance north along N- 
599 to the junction with Route N-98 
and be prepared to move southwest 
into the interior along N-98 about 
eight miles to La Mole. The right was 
to probe into the St. Tropez penin- 
sula. The 30th Infantry was to follow 



the 7th Infantry ashore at 0900 and 
advance north across the base of the 
peninsula to secure Cogolin, a road 
junction town on N-98, about three 
miles inland from the head of St. 
Tropez gulf. Subsequently the 30th 
Infantry was to push westward along 
a third-class road toward Collo- 
brieres, about fifteen miles northwest 
of Alpha Red and in the heart of the 
Maures massif. To the 15th Infantry, 
landing at Alpha Yellow, fell the tasks 
of clearing the peninsula and seizing 
St. Tropez. These missions complet- 
ed, the 15th was to assemble in re- 
serve near Cogolin. 

Air and naval bombardment took 
place generally as planned at both 
Alpha Red and Yellow, while mine- 
sweepers efficiently accomplished 
their tasks. About 0715 Apex craft — 
radio-controlled LCVPs loaded with 
high explosives — started shoreward at 
Alpha Red. Some hit concrete tetra- 
hedrons armed with mines, thereby 
opening channels through these off- 
shore obstacles; others went on to 
detonate on the beach, exploding 
mines. Preceded by twenty-one 
rocket-equipped landing craft, the 
leading assault wave at Alpha Red 
started shoreward about 0630. The 
rockets blasted the shoreline between 
0750 and 0756, and were quickly fol- 
lowed by the first troops and several 
DD tanks. One tank hit a mine and 
sank, as did two LCVPs carrying men 
of the 2d Battalion, 7th Infantry, re- 
sulting in sixty casualties. Later waves 
landed generally according to sched- 
ule, although mines, both offshore 
and on the beach, damaged a few ad- 
ditional craft and forced landing con- 
trol officers to close the right flank of 
the beach for some time. The 30th 



THE ANVIL BEACHHEAD 



111 



Infantry started ashore at 0920, 
twenty minutes late, but by 1015 the 
regiment and most of the artillery 
scheduled for Alpha Red were ashore. 
General O'Daniel, commanding the 
3d Division, came ashore at Alpha 
Red about 1045. 

Opposition at the beach was negli- 
gible, but inland the 7th Infantry 
came under small-arms, machine-gun, 
and mortar fire from elements of the 
242d Division. During the morning the 
most stubborn opposition centered at 
Cavalaire-sur-Mer and nearby Cape 
Cavalaire, but the 3d Battalion, 7th 
infantry, cleared the area by 1030. 
Accompanied by tanks and tank de- 
stroyers, the battalion continued west 
astride Route N-599 toward the area 
held by the French African Comman- 
do Group. Picking up part of the 
French unit, the 3d Battalion probed 
onward until dusk, halting before a 
German strongpoint at Layet Point, a 
mile southwest of Cape Negre and 
over seven miles southwest of Alpha 
Red. 

In the center the 1st Battalion, 7th 
Infantry, struck out from Alpha Red 
sometime around noon, pushing 
northwest over rugged coastal foot- 
hills of the Maures to reach Route 
N-98, a mile east of La Mole, at 1630. 
On the right the 2d Battalion, en- 
countering scattered resistance, 
moved north along N-559, marched 
into Cogolin during the afternoon, 
and then advanced southwest along 
Route N-98. Both 7th Infantry battal- 
ions joined the French commandos, 
who had already cleared La Mole, and 
moved into the town at dark. 

The 30th Infantry, driving rapidly 
north from Alpha Red behind the 
7th, cut across the base of the penin- 



sula to the head of the St. Tropez 
gulf, where it joined elements of both 
the 3d Division's 15th regiment and 
units of the 45th Division. The 3d 
Battalion, 30th Infantry, passed 
through Cogolin about 1400 and then 
struck west for Collobrieres, which 
fell at 2000, fully twenty-four hours 
earlier than had been expected. The 
rest of the 30th Infantry started 
northwest across the Maures from 
Cogolin about 1700; by nightfall lead- 
ing elements were scarcely five miles 
short of Le Luc, at the center of the 
Toulon-St. Raphael corridor. 

The 15th Infantry's assault at Alpha 
Yellow, executed on schedule, fol- 
lowed the pattern at Alpha Red. 
Again mines rather than German fire 
caused the few casualties suffered. Ost 
troops of the 242d Division, stunned 
by the air and naval bombardment, 
surrendered at the earliest opportuni- 
ty. The 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry, 
struck directly inland and by 1400 se- 
cured the high ground in the center 
of the St. Tropez peninsula, overrun- 
ning a German strongpoint in the 
process and suffering eight casualties 
while capturing forty prisoners. 3 

On the right, the 3d Battalion, de- 
layed by skirmishes with withdrawing 
troops of the 242d Division, reached 
St. Tropez about 1500 to find that 
misdropped troopers of the 509th 
Parachute Infantry Battalion, aided by 
the FFI, had already cleared most of 
the town. Remaining resistance was 
centered at the Citadel, a medieval 
fortress on the eastern outskirts of St. 
Tropez. But before the 15th Infantry 



3 For action at this strongpoint, the much-decorat- 
ed Audie L. Murphy, then a staff sergeant, received 
the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC). 



112 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



could organize a concerted attack, the 
paratroopers induced the small 
German garrison of sixty-seven men 
to surrender. 

The 2d Battalion followed the rest 
of the 15th Infantry ashore, marched 
overland to the St. Tropez area, and 
joined elements of the 30th Infantry 
and the 45th Division. Meanwhile, pa- 
trols of the 15th Infantry, aided by 
the 3d Cavalry Reconnaissance 
Troop, cleaned out bypassed portions 
of the St. Tropez peninsula. By dark 
the 15th Infantry was assembling at 
Cogolin in division reserve. 

The Assault in the Center 

The 45th Division's Delta beaches 
lay along the shores of Bougnon Bay, 
about eight miles north of Alpha 
Yellow and across the mouth of the 
St. Tropez gulf. The division's land- 
ing areas were again defended by 
only a single battalion, the 1st Battal- 
ion of the 765th Grenadiers, backed by 
one field artillery battalion and one 
naval battery. Delta Red, southern- 
most of the Delta beaches, was locat- 
ed about a mile and a half north of 
Ste. Maxime, and the others, Green, 
Yellow, and Blue, were a few miles 
farther up the coast, separated by 
500- to 1,000-yard stretches of less 
hospitable shoreline. Behind the 
beaches, Route N-98, hugging the 
coastal contours, pointed the way 
southwest to Ste. Maxime and north- 
ward to St. Raphael. Rising, cultivated 
slopes led inland for about half a mile 
before giving way to the steeper, 
wooded hills of the Maures. 

No offshore obstacles existed at the 
Delta beaches, and the preassault air 
and naval bombardment had already 



destroyed much of the artillery the 
Germans had emplaced to defend the 
area. On the morning of D-day, only 
one 75-mm. gun fired a few ineffec- 
tive rounds at landing craft before an 
American destroyer silenced the 
piece. Three 81 -mm. mortars on 
Cape Sardineaux let go about sixty 
rounds before they too were de- 
stroyed, while a 20-mm. automatic 
cannon at the northeastern limit of 
Bougnon Bay fired ineffectively for 
some time. Other German weapons in 
the area were in firing condition on 
D-day, but the weight of the air and 
naval bombardment, together with 
last-minute rocket barrages, discour- 
aged the crews. In the end, most of 
the defenders at gun emplacements 
and other strongpoints in the Delta 
beach region readily surrendered to 
45th Division troops. 

At Delta Red and Delta Green a 
few rounds of mortar fire and some 
small-arms fire harassed the 157th In- 
fantry's leading wave, which went 
ashore at 0802. The 3d Battalion 
swung southwest from Delta Red 
along Route N-98 toward Ste. 
Maxime, encountering only weak, 
scattered opposition in the area. At 
Ste. Maxime resistance was more de- 
termined, and the battalion had to 
call on naval gunfire support before 
securing the town about 1530. Then, 
led by a platoon of light tanks from 
the 117th Cavalry Squadron, the bat- 
talion moved on to the southwest, 
halting at dusk along the western 
shore of the St. Tropez gulf after 
meeting troops from the 3d Division. 

The 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry, 
landed unopposed at Delta Green and 
advanced generally through the 
Maures along a stream valley to Plan 



THE ANVIL BEACHHEAD 



113 



de la Tour, about five miles inland 
from Ste. Maxime. The 2d Battalion 
followed the 3d ashore over Delta 
Red and moved without opposition 
onto high ground some three or four 
miles west and southwest of Ste. 
Maxime. 

In the 45th Division's center, the 
2d Battalion, 180th Infantry, started 
ashore at Delta Yellow about 0758, 
encountered negligible resistance, 
and at dusk was in control of high 
ground four miles northwest of its 
beach, pushing deeper into the 
Maures. At Delta Blue on the right 
the 1st Battalion encountered little 
opposition (although land mines dis- 
abled four DD tanks), but ran into in- 
creasingly stubborn resistance as it 
swung north along Route N-98. By 
dusk the main body was scarcely a 
mile and a half beyond Delta Blue, al- 
though other elements, having 
marched over hills just inland, had 
reached N-98 a mile and a half far- 
ther north. During the evening, pa- 
trols probed northward to St. Aygulf, 
four miles north along Route N-98 
from Delta Blue, and found well-de- 
fended German strongpoints at the 
southern edge of town. 

The 3d Battalion, 180th Infantry, 
drove due north and inland from 
Delta Blue, following a poor road 
over rough, semiforested hills. The 
battalion ran into strong resistance 
from elements of the 242d Division 
and at dark was still maneuvering to 
clear high ground about two miles 
north of Delta Blue. Late in the after- 
noon a platoon of the 45th Recon- 
naissance Troop struck northward 
from Ste. Maxime along a third-class 
road (D-25) that led to Le Muy, 
twelve miles away. It was this platoon 



that, about 2030, met elements of the 
509th Parachute Infantry Battalion 
south of Le Muy. The 45th Division 
had not required the services of its 
third regiment, the 179th Infantry, on 
D-day, and the unit landed without 
incident to assemble in reserve near 
Ste. Maxime. 

The 36th Division on the Right 

As fortune would have it, the Ger- 
mans had concentrated most of their 
defenses in the area to be assaulted 
by the "hard luck" 36th Division. The 
short stretch of coastline between the 
mouth of the Argens River north to 
Antheor Cove was defended by the 
765th Grenadier Regiment's 2d Battalion, 
backed by a field artillery battalion, a 
naval battery, and the 1038th Antitank 
Battalion. The area included the small 
port of St. Raphael and, slightly 
inland, the town of Frejus. In addi- 
tion, the 3d Battalion, 765th Grenadiers, 
was in reserve in the Frejus region, 
and the fourth, or Ost, battalion of the 
239th Grenadiers (148th Division) held 
the area north of Antheor Cove for 
six miles to Theoule-sur-Mer. 

The primary beach of the 36th Di- 
vision was Camel Green, where the 
2d and 3d Battalions of the 141st In- 
fantry, 36th Division, were scheduled 
to land. Situated a little over three 
miles east of St. Raphael, the landing 
area was backed by a steep embank- 
ment on top of which ran Route N-98 
and the main-line, standard-gauge 
railroad, which emerged from the 
Toulon-St. Raphael corridor at St. 
Raphael to continue along the coast 
toward Cannes and Nice. Beyond the 
embankment were stone quarries cut 
deep into the sharply rising, scrub- 



114 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



covered hills of the Esterel. Three 
miles northeast of Camel Green lay 
tiny Camel Blue, the assault beach for 
the 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry. Situ- 
ated at the head of Antheor Cove, the 
beach gave way a scant ten yards 
inland to the Route N-98 embank- 
ment, beyond which the main railroad 
crossed a narrow gorge via an eight- 
span bridge. 

To the 141st Infantry fell the task 
of carrying out the main part of the 
36th Division's initial mission, that is, 
securing the right flank of the VI 
Corps. Once it landed, the regiment 
was to concentrate its efforts on clear- 
ing the shores of Agay Roadstead, be- 
tween Camel Green and Camel Blue, 
so that the division could use an ex- 
cellent strand at the top of the road- 
stead for general unloading. Next, the 
1st Battalion was to swing northeast 
along the coast toward Theoule-sur- 
Mer and La Napoule, at the eastern 
end of the Army beachhead line, a 
little over six miles beyond Camel 
Blue. The rest of the regiment was to 
strike north across the Esterel to the 
Army beachhead line and Route N-7, 
which ran along the inland slopes of 
the Esterel from Frejus to Cannes. 

The 143d Infantry, following the 
141st ashore at Camel Green, was to 
drive rapidly westward in the opposite 
direction to seize St. Raphael and 
support the landing of the 142d In- 
fantry over Camel Red, the 36th Divi- 
sion's third beach located at the head 
of the Frejus gulf. Camel Red gave 
direct access to Frejus, to a small air- 
field, and to the road net of the 
Argens valley sector of the Toulon-St. 
Raphael corridor and, in general, 
promised to provide the best beaches 
in the entire VI Corps assault area for 



the discharge of both troops and 
cargo. The Camel Red region was 
also the logical area in which to estab- 
lish a base for a major thrust toward 
Le Muy and objectives farther west. 

Once ashore at Camel Red, the 
142d Infantry was to strike inland for 
about a mile to clear Frejus and then 
push westward along Route N-7 
toward the 1st Airborne Task Force. 
If necessary, the regiment was to help 
the airborne troops seize Le Muy, ten 
miles up the Argens valley from 
Frejus. However, because of expected 
German opposition at Camel Red, the 
142d's assault was not scheduled until 
1400 in the afternoon. In the event 
that the 142d could not land at Camel 
Red, the regiment was to come 
ashore over Camel Green, swing 
inland past the 143d Infantry, and de- 
scend upon Frejus and Camel Red 
from behind. 

The landings of the 36th Division 
also began on schedule. At Camel 
Green, the initial assault waves found 
no underwater obstacles and at first 
encountered little opposition. From 
0900 to 1300 sporadic fire from 
German artillery on high ground to 
the west and northwest harassed un- 
loading operations, but caused little 
damage and few casualties; it was fi- 
nally halted by naval gunfire. At 
Camel Blue farther east some ma- 
chine-gun fire had greeted the first 
waves, but all firing ceased by 0900. 
As at the St. Tropez beaches, many of 
the Ost troops began surrendering as 
soon as the American troops ad- 
vanced beyond the shoreline. 

By 1000 the 141st had secured 
both Camel Green and Camel Blue, 
but at Agay Roadstead the 1st and 2d 
Battalions met stubborn opposition 



THE ANVIL BEACHHEAD 



115 



from elements of the 242d Division, 
and it was 1700 before the road- 
stead's shoreline was secure. The 2d 
Battalion then headed up a twisting 
road across the Esterel; by sunset, 
about 2030, it was less than a mile 
from Route N-7 and over two miles 
inland from La Napoule. 4 The 1st 
Battalion, which had to backtrack to 
Camel Blue after helping out at the 
Agay Roadstead, was two miles north 
of Blue by dark, having encountered 
only scattered opposition from 148th 
Division troops along winding Route 
N-98. The 3d Battalion, relieved at 
Green in midafternoon by other divi- 
sion units, began moving north over 
the Esterel along back roads in be- 
tween the 1st and 2d Battalions. The 
141st Infantry's casualties for the day 
were approximately five men killed 
and twenty-five wounded, almost all 
incurred during the action at Agay 
Roadstead. 

The 143d Infantry ran into more 
opposition to the west. After assem- 
bling at Camel Green, its 1st and 3d 
Battalions advanced west and north- 
west to secure high ground along the 
slopes of the Esterel and a mile or 
two inland. Closer to the coast, the 
2d also moved west, heading directly 
toward St. Raphael, but encountered 
stubborn resistance from a series of 
strongpoints controlling N-98, the 
shore road. Mortar and artillery fire 
from the right also harassed the bat- 
talion, while scattered groups of 
German infantry on hills just inland 
helped slow progress. By 1400, when 



"Under the double daylight saving time the Allies 
were using, sunset on 15 August 1944 was at 2035; 
it did not become completely dark for nearly an- 
other two hours. 



the 142d Infantry was scheduled to 
make its afternoon assault over Camel 
Red, forward elements of the 2d Bat- 
talion, 143d Infantry, had not yet 
reached St. Raphael and could not 
assist; and the closest troops of the 
180th Infantry, 45th Division (which 
VI Corps had hoped would also be 
able to support the 142d Infantry), 
were still a good four miles south of 
Camel Red at 1400. The 142d regi- 
ment would have to make what was 
expected to be one of the most criti- 
cal landings alone. 

Camel Red 

During the morning of 15 August, 
after the success of the main landings 
was assured, naval and air echelons 
went forward with preparations for 
the Camel Red assault. Here, for the 
first time, the attackers met consider- 
able opposition. The Germans, recog- 
nizing the importance of the Camel 
Red area, had developed a much 
stronger network of coastal defenses 
there. Static installations included a 
minefield across the Frejus gulf, 
single and double rows of mined con- 
crete tetrahedrons at the shoreline, 
and, on the beach, two rows of 
double-apron barbed wire, a concrete 
antitank wall seven feet high and over 
three feet thick, a twelve-foot-deep 
antitank ditch on the seaward side of 
the wall, and extensive fields of land 
mines on the beach, on the nearby 
airfield, and on the roads and paths 
leading inland. There were machine- 
gun positions in the antitank wall, and 
pillboxes and other strongpoints just 
behind it. Larger emplacements, a few 
holding 88-mm. guns, enfiladed the 
beach from the harbor front at St. 



116 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 




Pillbox Guards Bridge to St. Raphael. Supporting installations are behind it. 



Raphael. Inside the town the defend- 
ers had turned many buildings into 
lesser defensive works, and booby 
traps and mines were plentiful. Artil- 
lery dominating the beach included a 
battery of 75-mm. guns and another 
of 105-mm. in hills south of the 
Argens River; another 105-mm. bat- 
tery emplaced in rising ground a mile 
north of St. Raphael; two batteries of 
100-mm. howitzers on high ground 
northwest of the port; and various 
light antiaircraft batteries sprinkled 
throughout the region. Finally, the 
1038th Antitank Gun Battalion had 
zeroed in on Camel Red and its ap- 
proaches with eight or ten of the 
newest model 88-mm. guns. Towed 
from place to place as the occasion 
demanded, these weapons had been 



unscathed by the preassault bombard- 
ment. Infantry in the area included at 
least two reinforced companies of the 

2d Battalion, 765th Grenadiers ( 242d Di- 
vision ). 

The strength of the defenses was 
soon apparent. About 1100, mine- 
sweepers clearing the deep-water ap- 
proaches came under fire from 
German artillery that covering de- 
stroyers were unable to neutralize, 
and had to retire. From approximate- 
ly 1205 to 1220 over ninety B-24 
medium bombers dropped nearly 200 
tons of high explosives in the Camel 
Red area. But when the shallow-water 
minesweepers darted shoreward again 
about 1235, they found that the aerial 
bombardment had likewise failed to 
reduce the volume of German fire, 



THE ANVIL BEACHHEAD 



117 



and the minesweepers again retired 
under heavy shelling. Apex drone 
boats went in about 1300 and also re- 
ceived fire; all but three of the drones 
malfunctioned, and some had to be 
destroyed by Navy ships. 

Meanwhile, four destroyers, two 
cruisers, and a battleship began a 
final 45-minute bombardment. The 
assault waves of LCVPs had already 
formed and, led by rocket craft, start- 
ed shoreward shortly thereafter. At 
1400 the leading wave was about 
3,000 yards offshore and under fire 
from German artillery, when Capt. 
Leo B. Schulten, USN, commanding 
the Camel Red assault group of Task 
Force 87 under Rear Adm. Spencer S. 
Lewis, temporarily halted the landing. 
Initially he decided to postpone the 
assault on Camel Red until 1430. At 
the same time, he informed Admiral 
Lewis of the situation and requested 
instructions. 

Schulten's message placed Lewis in 
a dilemma. The TF 87 commander 
had no desire to cancel the landing, 
but sending the 142d Infantry ashore 
as planned over Camel Red seemed a 
serious error. Obviously the preas- 
sault bombardment had failed to neu- 
tralize the German artillery; the mine- 
sweeping had been incomplete; and 
the drones had accomplished little. 
Admiral Lewis also believed that 
Schulten's postponement had already 
cost them whatever shock effect the 
air and naval bombardments might 
have had, thus allowing German de- 
fenders time to recover and reoccupy 
any vacated positions. Chances for 
tactical surprise had certainly been 
lost, and sending the assault forces in 
now would undoubtedly result in 
heavy casualties for both the ground 



and naval forces involved. 

Lewis first attempted to consult 
with the 36th Division commander, 
General Dahlquist. Since he and 
Dahlquist had prepared alternate 
plans for landing the 142d Infantry at 
Camel Green, the admiral knew he 
could make the switch with a mini- 
mum of confusion. Moreover, reports 
from shore indicated that the 36th Di- 
vision could probably secure Camel 
Red by an overland attack, while 
Camel Green was proving to be a far 
better unloading beach than expect- 
ed. On the other hand, Dahlquist, 
who had been ashore since 1000, 
might need the 142d Infantry to land 
at Camel Red for tactical reasons. Ac- 
cordingly, between 1400 and 1415, 
Lewis tried to reach the division com- 
mander by radio, but, since adequate 
ship-to-shore communications had 
not yet been established, the effort 
was unsuccessful. Reluctant to delay 
his decision any longer, at 1415 Lewis 
directed Schulten to cancel the Camel 
Red assault and land the 142d over 
Camel Green, which had long since 
been secured by the 141st Infantry. 

The 142d Infantry started ashore at 
Camel Green about 1515, and before 
1600 its leading units had started 
north through rear elements of the 
143d Infantry, which continued its 
push southwest along the coast, still 
encountering determined resistance. 
Two miles inland from Camel Green 
the 142d Infantry wheeled westward, 
under orders to reach positions from 
which it could launch an attack into 
Frejus by 2000. However, the dis- 
tance involved, the slow movement 
through the steep, wooded hills, and 
some skirmishing with German 
units — probably the 765/A's reserve 



118 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



battalion — combined to delay prog- 
ress, and darkness found the 142d's 
forward elements still three miles 
from the town. Yet the prognosis was 
good. The regiment's casualties for 
the day were only five men wound- 
ed — certainly far fewer than there 
would have been if the unit had made 
an assault at Camel Red — and the 
progress of both the 142d and the 
143d together with the airborne 
blocking force had just about sealed 
off the entire Frejus area. The only 
serious loss occurred that night when 
the Luftwaffe launched its only effec- 
tive air sortie against the beachhead; 
JU-88 twin-engined light bombers 
managed to hit and sink LST-282 off 
Agay Roadstead with radio-controlled 
bombs, resulting in forty casualties 
and the loss of several 36th Division 
artillery pieces. 

The 1st Airborne Task Force 

Since the British 2d Independent 
Parachute Brigade had failed to take 
Le Muy on D-day, the 550th Glider 
Infantry Battalion, supported by part 
of the 509th Parachute Battalion, un- 
dertook the task shortly after mid- 
night on 16 August. 5 The two units 
launched their first attack at 0200, 
but, making little progress against 
stubborn resistance, they withdrew at 
daylight and returned at 0900 with ar- 
tillery support. The two battalions 
then pushed slowly into the town. 
Toward midafternoon, tanks of the 
191st Tank Battalion, attached to the 
45th Division, rumbled up the road 



5 This subsection is based on the official records 
of the 1st ABTF and its components, and on von 
Luttichau, "German Operations," chs. 9 and 10. 



across the Maures from Ste. Maxime 
to lend a hand; and the last defenders 
of Le Muy surrendered shortly there- 
after. 

Meanwhile, the 1st Battalion, 551st 
Parachute Infantry, had set out west 
for Draguignan, where elements of 
the LXII Corps headquarters still held 
out. By 2300 on the 16th, the battal- 
ion had cleared most of the town and 
captured part of the corps staff as 
well as Brig. Gen. Ludwig Bieringer, 
the German military governor of the 
Var department. 

West of Le Muy, at Les Arcs, the 
517th Parachute Infantry had begun 
to run into the first signs of an orga- 
nized German response. True to his 
decision at dusk on the 15th, General 
von Schwerin had continued prepara- 
tions at Vidauban to attack toward Le 
Muy and relieve the LXII Corps head- 
quarters at Draguignan. By 0700 on 
the 16th, he had finally managed to 
assemble about four infantry battal- 
ions from the 244th Division, two 105- 
mm. howitzers from the same divi- 
sion, and a couple of heavy weapons 
platoons and the assault company 
from his former division headquar- 
ters. Moving several miles northeast 
from Vidauban, the German force 
split at a road junction just south of 
Les Arcs — one group heading north 
for Les Arcs, and the other, intending 
to strike for Le Muy, temporarily 
holding at the junction. 

The first German group entered 
Les Arcs about 0730, threw out a 
small American outpost, and gained a 
foothold on rising terrain north of 
town, while the 51 7th Parachute In- 
fantry held along the hills to the 
northeast and east. About 0930 the 
517th's paratroopers were joined by 



THE ANVIL BEACHHEAD 



119 




Maj. Gen. Ludwig Bieringer, a Prisoner of War. General Frederick is on the 
passenger side of the jeep. 



the 2d Battalion of the 180th Infan- 
try, 45th Division, which had made its 
way over the Maures massif via back 
roads and trails. It had passed 
through Vidauban — then inexplicably 
empty of Germans — and, aided by a 
platoon from the 645th Tank De- 
stroyer Battalion, began clearing 
Route N-7, which threatened the 
German rear. A few hours later, ele- 
ments of the 157th Infantry, 45th Di- 
vision, approached Vidauban from 
the south and found the town again 
occupied by Germans, but they man- 
aged to clear the area of hostile 
troops by 1530. Late in the day, rein- 
forced by its 3d Battalion, the 517th 
Parachute Infantry launched an attack 
of its own, and by dusk had virtually 
surrounded Les Arcs. 



Doomed to failure before it started, 
General von Schwerin's counterattack 
now collapsed, and the remaining 
Germans in the vicinity of Vidauban 
and Les Arcs withdrew to the west 
and northwest under cover of dark- 
ness. During the day's fighting, the 
Germans had lost not only many 
heavy weapons and vehicles, but also 
the equivalent of two infantry battal- 
ions of the 244th Division against 
forces of the 1st Airborne Task Force 
and the 45th Infantry Division. The 
action at Les Arcs was also the last 
significant engagement of the 1st Air- 
borne Task Force in the Toulon-St. 
Raphael corridor. By the morning of 
17 August the airborne forces were in 
firm control of their objective area, 
including the railroad-highway junc- 



120 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 




Troops of 45th Division Wade Ashore Near St. Maxime 



tion towns of Le Muy, La Motte, 
Trans-en-Provence, and Les Arcs, 
which both blocked the main en- 
trances to the beachhead and secured 
the inland approaches to Toulon. 
Shortly before noon on the 17th, 
major elements of the 36th Division 
began to arrive at Le Muy from the 
Frejus area, and the initial mission of 
the airborne force ended. 

The Advance to the Blue Line 



German opposition during the 
night of 15-16 August and through- 
out the 16th was strongest on VI 
Corps' far left, beyond Cape Negre, 
and on the right, along the Argens 
valley for about five miles inland. In 



the southwest, the 7th Infantry, 3d 
Division, drove toward Toulon in two 
columns — the 3d Battalion and the 
French commandos along the coastal 
road (Route N-559) and the rest of 
the regiment about three miles 
inland along Route N-98. 6 The 
German strongpoint at Layet Point, 
where the Allied coastal force had 
been halted late on the 15th, fell early 
on the morning of the 16th, but the 
area was not entirely cleared until 
almost 1500. Against scattered oppo- 
sition, the coastal force pushed on 



6 Additional information on 3d Division and com- 
mando operations comes from Bouvet, "Un Debar- 
quement de Commandos . . . l'Operation du Cap 
Negre," Revue Militaire d'Information, No. 153; and 
Groupe de Commandos d'Afrique, Compte-Rendu 
d'Opns, 15-25 Aug 44. 



THE ANVIL BEACHHEAD 



121 



and by nightfall had patrols in Le La- 
vandou, about three miles beyond 
Layet Point. 

Starting out from La Mole about 
0330 on the 16th, the 7th Infantry's 
inland column halted at 0730 in front 
of a strong 242d Division roadblock 
about seven miles beyond La Mole. 
Defensive fire and rugged terrain de- 
layed progress for the rest of the day, 
but during the night the American 
units, guided by the FFI, began flank- 
ing marches that were to carry them 
past the obstacle early on the 17th. 

North of the 7th Infantry, the 30th 
Infantry regiment also swept west- 
ward in two columns. About 1000 a 
small group started out from Collo- 
brieres opposed mainly by 242d Divi- 
sion artillery, antitank, and mortar fire; 
it emerged from the mountains about 
1600 at Pierrefeu in the Toulon-St. 
Raphael corridor. The unit had 
broken through a heavily wooded, 
easily defensible section of the 
Maures and was a good eight miles 
west of the Army beachhead line. 
Meanwhile, other elements of the 
30th Infantry regiment had reached 
Gonfaron, ten miles northeast of Col- 
lobrieres on Route N-97, the main 
highway through the southwestern 
section of the Toulon-St. Raphael 
corridor. By dusk on the 16th the 
main body of the 30th Infantry was 
assembled at Gonfaron, with patrols 
active to the west and southwest. 

North of the 3d Division, units of 
the 45th Division that had completed 
their missions along the coast 
marched across the northeastern por- 
tion of the Maures on the 16th, push- 
ing west and assisting the paratroop- 
ers at Vidauban. By the following day, 
17 August, the division had cleared a 



wide area south of the Argens River 
from Frejus to Le Luc and stood 
astride the central portion of the 
Toulon-St. Raphael corridor. Above 
the 45th, units of the 36th Division 
had secured the coast on the 16th 
and then pushed scattered German 
elements off the Esterel massif before 
swinging west to join the airborne 
units at Le Muy. By the 17th they oc- 
cupied a broad area on the VI Corps' 
right flank, from Theoule-sur-Mer, at 
the northern end of the blue line, to 
the region around Draguignan a few 
miles northwest of Le Muy. 

The 36th Division seemed to work 
harder for its gains. Shortly before 
dawn on the 16th, units of the 142d 
Infantry had entered Frejus unop- 
posed, but soon became involved in a 
series of minor skirmishes after day- 
break. They were unable to secure 
the town until 1330, and then met 
further resistance while pushing up 
the Argens valley that afternoon. 
Along the coast, the 143d had cleared 
St. Raphael by 0930, but, as expected, 
encountered stubborn resistance from 
242d Division elements in the Camel 
Red area. Meanwhile, north of Frejus 
and St. Raphael, 141st Infantry units 
ran into a second counterattacking 
force along Route N-7 in the north- 
eastern corner of the Esterel. A 
German motorized column, probably 
consisting of part of the reserve bat- 
talion of the 239th Grenadiers, 148th 
Division, came rolling south along the 
highway early in the morning from 
the direction of Cannes. The infantry- 
men of the regiment's 2d Battalion 
easily dispersed these Riviera rangers, 
who apparently had little knowledge 
of the rapid American advance. How- 
ever, to prevent further excursion 



122 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



from this quarter, the 141st regi- 
ment's 1st Battalion and some divi- 
sional engineers moved up to La Na- 
poule, destroying a local highway and 
railroad bridge just south of the town. 

An Appraisal 

On both 15 and 16 August the VI 
Corps had penetrated farther and 
more easily than planners had 
thought possible. Except on the far 
west, in the sector of the 7th Infantry, 
VI Corps and the 1st Airborne Task 
Force had reached and crossed the 
Army beachhead, or blue, line. By the 
end of D plus 1 Truscott's forces thus 
had a firm hold on the vital Toulon- 
St. Raphael corridor, making it nearly 
impossible for German ground forces 
to launch a significant attack on the 
Allied beachline. Although German 
resistance had stiffened somewhat on 
the 16th, it was still spotty and much 
weaker than expected. In fact, the 
Germans had failed to make any 
strong or coordinated attempt to con- 
tain the beachhead, and the VI Corps 
found no indication that the Germans 
had any firm front line. Resistance 
had been disorganized and confined 
to widely separated strongpoints; 
counterattacks had been highly local- 
ized and uncoordinated with units de- 
fending the beachline. In addition, in- 
telligence officers at VI Corps and 
Seventh Army could find no indica- 
tions that the Nineteenth Army was 
massing forces for a major counterof- 
fensive, and could only assume that 
the Germans would attempt to delay 
further penetrations while preparing 
stronger defenses at Toulon. 

The Anvil commanders had other 
reasons to be optimistic. By the 16th 



they had confirmed the low caliber of 
the German units that were facing 
their forces. Captured documents and 
interrogation reports showed that the 
vast majority of the 2,300 prisoners 
taken by Seventh Army units were 
either overage Germans or members 
of Ost units. In addition, Allied losses 
had been much lower than expected 
on D-day, with only about 95 killed 
and 385 soldiers wounded. 7 Further- 
more, instead of rising sharply on the 
16th as many planners had expected, 
VI Corps casualties were somewhat 
lower than they had been on the 
15th. Losses of equipment and mate- 
riel had also been relatively insignifi- 
cant. Despite the misgivings of 
Churchill, the Anvil landings, accord- 
ing to the U.S. Navy historian Samuel 
Eliot Morison, had been "an example 
of an almost perfect amphibious oper- 
ation from the point of view of train- 
ing, timing, Army-Navy-Air Force 
cooperation, performance, and re- 
sults." 8 

Just about the only major contro- 
versy regarding this initial phase 
stemmed from Admiral Lewis' deci- 
sion to back away from the Camel 
Red beach and put the 36th Division's 
142d Infantry regiment ashore on 
Camel Green. The division command- 
er, General Dahlquist, later approved 
the decision and regretted only that 



'The figures on the wounded include those car- 
ried as injured in action; the killed include those 
who died of wounds. The figures are approxima- 
tions from incomplete and contradictory informa- 
tion in the official Army records. For the first three 
or four days of the campaign, casualty figures were 
not adequately recorded, but as command, control, 
and administration procedures formalized ashore, 
casualty reporting became more accurate. 

8 Morison, The Invasion of France and Germany, p. 
291. 



THE ANVIL BEACHHEAD 



123 



the concerned regiment could not 
have been scheduled for Camel Green 
from the beginning. The delay at 
Camel Red had wasted six or seven 
hours. On the other hand, he be- 
lieved that to have planned to land 
almost his entire division over Camel 
Green would have been unsound. 
Truscott, however, was later extreme- 
ly critical of the decision, holding that 
the failure to carry out the assault on 
Camel Red forced his units to spend 
an extra day securing the beach from 
the land approaches, directly causing 
delays in the landing of Combat Com- 
mand Sudre and ground echelons of 
the tactical air force, which in turn 
delayed the seizure and occupation of 
airfields near Frejus and in the 
Argens valley. According to Truscott, 
the net result was the lack of close air 
support for the VI Corps in the criti- 
cal days that followed and his own in- 
ability to send Sudre's armored unit 
"northwest or north as . . . planned." 
Thus he termed the decision "a grave 
error which merited reprimand at 
least, and most certainly no congratu- 
lation," adding that, "except for the 
otherwise astounding success of the 
assault, it might have had even graver 
consequences." 9 

Truscott's criticism appears unjusti- 
fied. The 36th Division did not secure 
the St. Raphael-Frejus area until mid- 
afternoon on 16 August, and even 
then the task of clearing offshore and 
beach obstacles proved to be so great 
that Army engineers and Navy demo- 
lition experts were unable to open 
Camel Red for discharge operations 
until 1900 on 17 August, D plus 2. 
Thus, even if the 142d Infantry, re- 



gardless of casualties, had secured 
Camel Red during the afternoon of 
15 August, the beach would not have 
been ready to receive CC Sudre or 
any other unit until late on the 16th 
at the earliest. 

Truscott's own plans had called for 
the French armored command to land 
sometime on the 16th, with "first pri- 
ority" to Camel Red. 10 But Sudre's 
force actually landed over the 45th 
Division beaches during the night of 
15-16 August, and was assembled 
ashore earlier than would have been 
the case if it had landed over Camel 
Red on the 16th in accordance with 
Truscott's original plans. From its as- 
sembly point near Ste. Maxime, CC 
Sudre could have started north along 
Route N-98 on the morning of the 
16th and would have reached the 
Argens valley no later than it would 
have if the unit had landed over 
Camel Red on the 16th. Truscott 
could also have sent the unit north 
into the Argens valley over the Ste. 
Maxime-Le Muy road on the 16th. 
The 45th Division had already estab- 
lished liaison with the 1st Airborne 
Task Force along this road, and 
during the afternoon of the 16th a 
platoon of the 191st Tank Battalion, 
attached to the 45th Division, reached 
Le Muy over the same road. Had 
Sudre's armor followed that route on 
the 16th, it might well have reached 
Le Muy considerably sooner than if it 
had landed at Camel Red during the 
afternoon of that day. 

But the entire matter is academic. 
Well before 15 August, Patch had de- 
cided that CC Sudre would have to be 
returned to de Lattre's control soon 



'Truscott, Command Missions, pp. 414, 418. 



10 Ibid., p. 397; see also VI Corps FO 1, 30 Jul 44. 



124 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



after the landings. Truscott could not 
have sent it "northwest or north." 
Realizing this, Truscott had made 
plans to put together Task Force 
Butler for a possible drive north and 
northwest of the beachhead area, and 
had expected CC Sudre to attack gen- 
erally westward in the region south of 
the Durance River. In the end, 
Sudre's armor began to reach the 
middle of the Toulon-St. Raphael 
corridor during the night of 16-17 
August, certainly no later than it 
could have if put ashore over Camel 
Red on the afternoon of the 16th in 
accordance with preassault plans. 

Truscott's remarks about delays in 
airfield construction and lack of air 
support east of the Rhone are also 
difficult to support. Even if the 142d 
Infantry had landed on Camel Red as 
scheduled, it is doubtful that engi- 
neers could have begun work on the 
airfields near Frejus before the 17th, 
when surveys actually began. More- 
over, existing and potential airfield 
sites in the Argens valley and in the 
Toulon-St. Raphael corridor were all 
in VI Corps' hands as soon as or ear- 
lier than anyone had expected. 11 But 
the rapid Allied penetration, com- 
bined with adverse soil conditions in 
the beachhead area, forced aviation 
engineers to make drastic revisions in 
construction plans; unloading delays 
at both Alpha and Camel beaches also 
slowed airfield progress. In the 
beachhead area engineers could not 
meet construction schedules: the 
crash (emergency) airstrip was 



11 Additional information on air force planning 
and construction derives from MATAF Rpt on Opn 
Dragoon and XII Tactical Air Command Rpt on 
Opn Dragoon. 



opened two days late, three of the 
four planned dry-weather fields were 
four days behind schedule, and the 
rapid advance inland prompted engi- 
neers to cancel the fourth. On the 
other hand, a field at Sisteron, sixty 
miles northwest of Camel Red and 
not planned before the assault, was 
open on 23 August; a field at Le Luc 
was ready on the 25th, a week ahead 
of schedule; and one at Cuers, also in 
the Toulon-St. Raphael corridor, was 
operational on D plus 12, ten days 
ahead of schedule. Thus it is unlikely 
that the failure of the 142d Infantry 
to land at Camel Red on the after- 
noon of D-day had any bearing on 
close air support for the VI Corps 
east of the Rhone. 12 Truscott's post- 
war contentions may signify little 
more than his frustrations with some 
aspects of the campaign that followed. 

Certainly for Truscott, the evening 
of 16 August was filled with both ela- 
tion and expectation. For all practical 
purposes, his forces had gained the 
initial objectives that the Seventh 
Army had assigned to them, and had 
done so twenty-four to forty-eight 
hours before most planners had 
thought possible. The next stage, ac- 
cording to the Seventh Army's inva- 
sion directive, was to reorganize the 
assault force and mount an aggressive 
drive to the west and northwest. Con- 



12 Air Force reports emphasized inadequate ship- 
ping for the air buildup in southern France, unload- 
ing problems that resulted primarily from using 
merchant ships instead of LSTs for some supplies 
and equipment, and transportation problems 
ashore. Finally, the very success of VI Corps created 
a major problem for the air forces because, accord- 
ing to the official Air Force account, "the battle line 
was so completely fluid that MATAF's planes could 
not be used for close support." AAF III, p. 433. 



THE ANVIL BEACHHEAD 



125 



sidering the apparent German weak- 
ness all along his front, Truscott was 
eager to begin executing this second 
phase as soon as possible. A strong 
advance inland toward Toulon and 
the Rhone would also keep the Ger- 



mans off balance, making it increas- 
ingly difficult for them to concentrate 
enough forces to contain the Allied 
beachhead area. With Patch's approv- 
al, Truscott issued the new attack 
orders before dark on the 16th. 



CHAPTER VIII 

Breakout: 17-19 August 



Eager to take advantage of the 
weakness of the German defenders 
and their slow response to Anvil, 
Truscott sent his three divisions 
inland. He wanted the bulk of the 3d 
Infantry Division to continue its ad- 
vance on 17 August, first pushing its 
left flank westward to the line of the 
Real Martin and Gapeau rivers, both 
running generally north to south 
under the western slopes of the 
Maures. 1 Once there, the division's 
left was to hold until the French II 
Corps, on or about 20 August, could 
move up to continue the drive toward 
Toulon. The rest of the 3d Division 
was to assemble in the Le Luc-Gon- 
faron area and strike westward along 
the axis of Route N-7 to Brignoles, 
thirteen miles beyond Le Luc, and to 
St. Maximin, eleven miles farther and 
twenty- five mile s directly north of 
Toulon [(Ma/7 7).\ Meanwhile, the 45th 
Division was to dispatch one regimen- 
tal combat team northwest from Vi- 
dauban to the Barjols area, about 
eleven miles north of St. Maximin. 
CC Sudre (CC1) 2 of the 1st French 



'Additional planning material for American units 
in this section is from Truscott, Command Missions, 
pp. 416-19. 

2 The French 1st and 5th Armored Divisions nor- 
mally used numerals to designate their combat com- 
mands — 1, 2, and 3 in the 1st Armored Division and 



Armored Division was also to head 
westward to the St. Maximin-Barjols 
line, using both N-7 and secondary 
roads between the 3d and 45th Divi- 
sions. 

On the VI Corps' eastern flank, 
scattered forces of Task Force Butler 
were to assemble at Le Muy on the 
17th, reorganize in accordance with 
preassault plans, and start probing 
northwest on the 18th. The 36th Divi- 
sion was to relieve the 1st Airborne 
Task Force in the Le Muy-Les Arcs 
region and then, leaving one regi- 
ment along the coast to protect VI 
Corps' right flank, be prepared to 
follow TF Butler. After assembling in 
reserve at Le Muy, the airborne force 
was to move eastward to relieve the 
regiment that the 36th Division had 
left behind. 

In brief, Truscott's plans provided 
for three mutually supporting maneu- 
vers: first, a general pressure west- 
ward along the coast toward Toulon; 
second, an outflanking of Toulon to 
the north (possibly followed by an ad- 
vance westward toward the Rhone); 
and third, a drive northwest by TF 
Butler and the 36th Division. On the 



4, 5, and 6 in the 5th Armored Division. The 
French 2d Armored Division, in contrast, used let- 
ters taken from the last names of the commanders. 




MAP 7 



128 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



left, the advance westward to the Real 
Martin and Gapeau rivers would 
secure a base area for the attack on 
Toulon and Marseille by the French 
II Corps. The push in the center to 
the St. Maximin-Barjols line would 
protect the French northern flank and 
threaten the Rhone valley. Finally, the 
advance northwest by TF Butler and 
the 36th Division would greatly com- 
plicate German efforts to hold the 
lower Rhone and would pose a seri- 
ous threat to a subsequent German 
withdrawal from the area. 

German Plans 

The German commanders spent 
the night of 16-17 August assessing 
their options. 3 With the failure of the 
LXII Corps' 148th and 24 2d Divisions to 
halt or even slow down the invasion 
and with the collapse of the German 
counterattack in the Les Arcs area on 
the 16th, General Wiese, the Nine- 
teenth Army commander, concluded 
that his major problem was no longer 
mounting an immediate, ad hoc as- 
sault but rather establishing a defen- 
sive line that would give his combat 
forces still west of the Rhone time to 
transfer to the east side of the river, 
either for defensive purposes or to 
build up the strength needed to 
launch a substantive counteroffensive. 
Furthermore, he decided that any new 
attempts to rescue the LXII Corps 
headquarters would be fruitless and 
could only disrupt orderly redeploy- 
ments. However, on the basis of inad- 
equate intelligence, Wiese also esti- 



3 German information in this chapter is based on 
von Luttichau, "German Operations," chs. 8-11 and 
15. 



mated that the Seventh Army posed 
no immediate threat to the region 
west of Toulon, allowing him to move 
units east from the Marseille area for 
defensive purposes and replace them 
with forces from west of the Rhone. 

Late on the afternoon of 16 August 
Wiese directed General Baessler, 
commanding the battered 242d Divi- 
sion, to build up delaying positions 
along the line of the Real Martin and 
Gapeau rivers from the coast inland 
for thirty miles northeast to Vidau- 
ban. (Wiese did not yet know that Vi- 
dauban was already lost.) To help 
hold this sector, he pulled three bat- 
talions of the 244th Division from po- 
sitions west of Toulon and assigned 
the units to Baessler. About the same 
time, Wiese directed the 148th Divi- 
sion, now cut off on the eastern side 
of the Allied landing area, to employ 
whatever units it could find to halt 
what he believed to be an Allied drive 
along the coast toward Cannes. At 
this point, he thus had no clear idea 
of specific Allied objectives inland. 

Pressing Westward 

The rapid Allied advance westward 
soon made Wiese's defensive plans 
obsolete. 4 On the left of the 3d Divi- 
sion, the 7th Infantry and the French 
African Commando Group moved up 
to the Real Martin and Gapeau rivers 
on the 17th and 18th, encountering 



4 The general sources of information for Allied 
ground operations in this and subsequent chapters 
are the official records of the units mentioned in the 
text. Continued repetition of citations to these 
sources becomes redundant, but planning material, 
controversial matters, and complex situations are 
fully documented, while citations are made, as ap- 
propriate, to published material, both official and 
unofficial. 



BREAKOUT: 17-19 AUGUST 



129 



some stubborn but scattered resist- 
ance from units of the 242d Division. 
On the 18th and 19th the French 
commandos and elements of the 
French 1st Infantry Division relieved 
the 7th Infantry in the coastal sector 
and continued the drive west. 

In the 3d Division's center the 15th 
Infantry, following the 3d Provisional 
Reconnaissance Squadron, 5 reached 
the town of La Roquebrussanne on 
18 August, ten miles south of Brig- 
noles. The 30th Infantry, charged 
with seizing Brignoles, started out on 
17 August with a firefight at Le Luc, 
but part of the regiment and elements 
of CC Sudre cleared the town after a 
four-hour action. Meanwhile, the 
main bodies of the two Allied units 
continued westward along Route N-7 
and lesser roads, nearing Brignoles 
late on the 18th. After a battle that 
lasted until the next morning, the 
area fell to the French and American 
attackers. Farther north, the 157th 
and 179th Infantry, 45th Division, 
headed out of the Le Luc-Vidauban 
area late on the 17th, encountered 
little resistance, and halted at dark on 
the 18th within striking distance of 
Barjols. The entire advance complete- 
ly dislocated the center of the line 
that Wiese had hoped to establish. 

Well to the east the 142d Infantry, 
36th Division, cleaned out the north 
side of the Argens valley with little 
trouble and, passing through units of 
the 1st Airborne Task Force at Le 
Muy, mopped up the Draguignan area 



5 The squadron consisted of the 3d Cavalry Re- 
connaissance Troop, the 3d Division Battle Patrol 
(itself a provisional unit), the Reconnaissance Com- 
pany of the 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion, and 
Company D (light tanks) of the 756th Tank Battal- 
ion. 



during the 18th. The 143d Infantry 
reassembled in the vicinity of Le Muy 
on the 17th and 18th, while the 141st 
Infantry and the 636th Tank Destroy- 
er Battalion spread out to secure the 
region extending east from Le Muy to 
the coast as well as the slopes of the 
Esterel. During the 18th the 636th 
Tank Destroyer Battalion sent recon- 
naissance troops north about fifteen 
miles from Frejus in an effort to 
rescue a group of misdropped para- 
troopers that the Germans had cut 
off. The first attempt failed, but after 
hard fighting on the 19th, elements of 
the 141st Infantry and the tank de- 
stroyer battalion extricated many in- 
jured paratroopers. 

Meanwhile, the 36th Division's Cav- 
alry Reconnaissance Troop had been 
indulging itself in a series of long- 
distance scouting patrols to the north. 
Rapidly moving twenty-five to thirty 
miles north and northeast of Le Muy 
as far as Route N-85, which is the 
main highway from the Riviera to 
Grenoble, the light cavalry units en- 
countered no significant resistance on 
17 and 18 August. The patrolling, to- 
gether with information received from 
ULTRA sources, 6 reflected the gener- 
al weakness of the German forces 
along the Seventh Army's eastern 
flank. Once TF Butler and the 36th 
Division started north and northwest, 
they apparently would face no signifi- 
cant threat on their right, or north- 
eastern, flank. 

The German Defense 

In the early afternoon of 17 
August, Nineteenth Army officers 



6 Bussey ULTRA Report. 



130 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 




Troops and Tank Destroyers Move Through Salernes 



learned that VI Corps' center and 
right wing had passed through the 
defensive line they had planned to es- 
tablish from the coast to Vidauban. 
Seeking some way to hold back Allied 
forces until more German units, espe- 
cially the 11th Panzer Division, could 
move to the east side of the Rhone, 
General Wiese decided to establish 
two new defensive lines. The first 
would extend northward from the 
eastern defenses of Toulon through 
Brignoles to Barjols. The second line, 
about fifteen miles farther west, 
would anchor on the south at Mar- 
seille, stretch eastward about twenty 
miles along Route N-8 (the Toulon- 
Marseille highway), and then swing 
north to the Durance River about 
fourteen miles northwest of Barjols. 



These two lines represented Wiese's 
last effort to tie the defense of 
Toulon and Marseille to that of the 
Rhone River valley, which was still 
fifty miles farther west. 

Wiese assigned responsibility for 
holding the two new lines to Lt. Gen. 
Baptist Kniess, commanding the 
LXXXV Corps. Kniess would have what 
was left of the 244th Division (guard- 
ing Marseille), the 338th Division (less 
one regimental combat team), the 
remnants of the 242d Division, and 
part of the 198th Division, which was 
still trying to cross the Rhone. Wiese 
also gave Kniess General von 
Schwerin and his 189th Division head- 
quarters, along with the miscellane- 
ous units that von Schwerin had 
already assembled. Kniess, in turn, di- 



BREAKOUT: 17-19 AUGUST 



131 



rected Baessler of the 242d Division to 
hold Toulon and the southern part of 
the first line with whatever units the 
division commander could round up; 
he ordered von Schwerin to hold the 
center at Brignoles and Barjols with 
the 15th Grenadiers of his former divi- 
sion and the battered 932d and 933d 
Grenadier Regiments of the 244th Divi- 
sion. The 198th Division, reinforced by 
elements of the 338th Division, would 
man the second line as quickly as pos- 
sible, for Kniess had little confidence 
that he could hold the first line past 
nightfall on 18 August. If all went 
well, the delay along the first line 
would provide enough time for the 
11th Panzer Division and the remaining 
elements of the 198th and 338th Divi- 
sions to cross the Rhone. 

The German plans were again over- 
taken by events. Except on the imme- 
diate Toulon front, General Kniess 
was unable to establish the first line, 
and the Brignoles-Barjols area fell 
before any LXXXV Corps units could 
establish a coherent defense. Accord- 
ingly, during the afternoon of 18 
August, Wiese directed a general re- 
tirement to the second line. Here 
Kniess planned to have the 198th Di- 
vision, which so far had been able to 
deploy only two infantry battalions, 
hold the northern section of the 
second line near the Durance River; 
the 242d Division — now so reduced in 
strength as to be redesignated Battle 
Group Baessler — defend the center with 
the equivalent of a regimental task 
force; and two battalions of the 244th 
Division anchor the line in the south at 
Marseille. The garrison at Toulon 
would have to fend for itself. 

The Allied push westward was, 
however, again relentless. By the 



morning of 19 August, the 30th In- 
fantry, 3d Division, had cleared Brig- 
noles, and Sudre's CC1 had pushed 
to St. Maximin, eleven miles farther 
west. The 15th Infantry joined the 
French armor at St. Maximin later in 
the day and by the evening had trav- 
eled another nine miles west to the 
town of Trets. The general advance 
met only minor German resistance, 
but had breached the center of 
Kniess' second line of defense before 
it could be established. 

Meanwhile, north of Brignoles, the 
1 79th Infantry of the 45th Division 
had cleaned out Barjols on the 19th, 
while still farther north the 157th In- 
fantry had pushed west and by dusk 
was nearing the Durance River. It 
began to appear to jubilant oper- 
ations officers at all echelons of com- 
mand that the east-west highways and 
byways between the coastal ports and 
the Durance River might be unde- 
fended all the way to the Rhone. If 
so, the Nineteenth Army might be in for 
a major disaster if the American drive 
west continued at its current pace. 

For General Patch, the Seventh 
Army commander, the capture of 
Toulon and Marseille was more 
pressing. Until the ports were in 
Allied hands, the success of the inva- 
sion could not be confirmed. Thus, as 
Sudre's armored force was preparing 
to continue its drive west, Patch or- 
dered Truscott to return the unit to 
French control for the assault on 
Toulon. Reluctant to lose the force 
and arguing that its return east would 
create traffic jams, which would seri- 
ously inhibit the westward progress of 
the 3d Division, Truscott rushed to 
the Seventh Army's command post at 
St. Tropez to dispute the decision. 



132 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



Patch was unmoved and refused to 
reverse the long-standing arrange- 
ment. Although sympathetic, he re- 
minded Truscott that the Seventh 
Army had promised General de Lattre 
to return CC1 by dark on the 19th to 
a position from which it could move 
forward on the 20th with the rest of 
the French forces heading toward 
Toulon. General Sudre of CC1, who 
disliked the redeployment order as 
much as Truscott, had no choice but 
to move his command back east along 
Route N-7, thus creating the traffic 
jams Truscott had feared and, more 
important, depriving the VI Corps of 
its most powerful mobile striking 
force. In its place, Task Force Butler 
would have to suffice. 7 

Task Force Butler 

By evening on 17 August, almost 
all of TF Butler had assembled just 
north of Le Muy. 8 A brigade-sized 
unit, the force included the 1 1 7th 
Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron; 
the 753d Tank Battalion (with two 
medium tank companies); the motor- 
ized 2d Battalion of the 143d Infan- 
try, 36th Division; Company C, 636th 
Tank Destroyer Battalion; and the 
59th Armored Field Artillery Battal- 



'See also Truscott, Command Missions, pp. 422-23. 

8 In addition to official records, material in this 
chapter on the operations of TF Butler derives from 
Frederick B. Butler, "Task Force Butler," Armored 
Cavalry Journal, LVII, No. 1 (Jan-Feb 48), 12-18, 
and No. 2 (Mar-Apr 48), 30-38 (hereafter cited as 
Butler, "Task Force Butler"); and John A. Hixon, 
"Analysis of Deep Attack Operations — U.S. VI 
Corps: Task Force Butler, August 1944," MS, U.S. 
Army Combat Studies Institute, Fort Leavenworth, 
Kansas, 1987 (hereafter cited as Hixon, "TF 
Butler"). 



ion. 9 Support forces included Compa- 
ny F of the 344th Engineer General 
Service Regiment; a reinforced com- 
pany from the 111th Medical Battal- 
ion, 36th Division; the 3426th Quar- 
termaster Truck Company; and a 
detachment of the 87th Ordnance 
Company (Heavy Maintenance). 

Butler's mechanized task force 
started out early on 18 August, first 
following the 45th Division's trail 
west to the Barjols area, and then 
striking north on its own. By noon 
the force had reached the Verdon 
River, ten miles above Barjols, but 
found the highway bridge destroyed 
and was unable to cross until about 
1600, despite assistance from the FFI 
and local French civilians. Then, with 
only about four hours of daylight left 
and five hours of fuel, Butler decided 
to wait for his resupply column, due 
to arrive that night. Meanwhile, one 
element of the force, Troop C, which 
had taken a slightly different route 
north, bumped into a portion of the 
LXII Corps staff that had eluded the 
airborne units, and captured the un- 
fortunate General Neuling. 

The next day, 19 August, the main 
body of the task force struck out 
northwest, crossing to the west bank 
of the Durance River to take advan- 
tage of better roads there, and contin- 
ued north to Sisteron. Troops A and 
B of the 1 1 7th Cavalry remained on 
the eastern side of the river and, after 
a few minor skirmishes with isolated 
German units, entered Sisteron unop- 



9 The 117th Cavalry Squadron consisted of three 
reconnaissance troops (A, B, and C), a self-pro- 
pelled assault gun troop (E), and a company of light 
tanks (F) (there was no Company or Troop D). The 
753d Tank Battalion left behind Company A, 
medium tanks, and Company D, light tanks. 



BREAKOUT: 17-19 AUGUST 



133 



posed about 1800 hours. The main 
column, its march north disturbed 
only by a mistaken strafing attack 
from friendly aircraft, reached the 
town shortly thereafter. The only siza- 
ble action took place at Digne, fifteen 
miles southeast of Sisteron, where ar- 
mored elements of Butler's force 
helped an FFI battalion convince 
about 500 to 600 German defend- 
ers — mostly administrative and logisti- 
cal troops — to surrender after several 
hours of fighting. 10 

That evening Butler refueled his 
vehicles, established outposts north of 
Sisteron, and sent out several mobile 
patrols to the west, which scouted to 
within thirty miles of Avignon and the 
Rhone. With good radio communica- 
tions established with VI Corps head- 
quarters and several intact bridges 
over the Durance River in his hands, 
he was ready to move his task force 
either north toward Grenoble or 
west-northwest toward the Rhone 
River in the vicinity of Montelimar. 
Impatiently he awaited Truscott's 
orders. 

Accelerating the Campaign 

The campaign in southern France 
was quickly reaching a crisis point. 
Well before 19 August the unexpect- 
ed weakness of German resistance in 
the assault area had brought about 
two significant changes in Seventh 
Army plans. 11 The first was Truscott's 



10 For the interaction of Task Force Butler and 
local FFI, see unpublished paper, Arthur L. Funk, 
"Allies and Maquis: Liberation of Basses Alpes 
(Alpes de Haute-Provence) and Hautes Alpes — 
August 1944," 16 pp. (copy CMH). 

11 This section is based largely on Seventh Army 
Rpt, I, 152; Headquarters, Seventh Army, "Diary for 
Commanding General, Seventh Army," vol. II (of 



exploitation order of late 16 August, 
which had started the 3d and 45th Di- 
visions westward and TF Butler 
northward. The second, made by 
Patch, was to accelerate the unloading 
of the French II Corps. 

Original plans had called for the 
first echelon of the French II Corps 
to land between 16 and 18 August, 
and the second between the 21st and 
the 25th. Seeking to exploit German 
weakness and speed up the move to 
Toulon and Marseille, Patch, in con- 
junction with Admiral Hewitt and 
General de Lattre, pushed up the 
schedule. The bulk of the first French 
echelon came ashore on 16 August, 
and elements of various French ar- 
mored units arrived the next day. 
This allowed the troop transports to 
make a rapid trip back to Corsica, and 
return with troops of the second ech- 
elon on the 18th. By nightfall that day 
almost all troops of the II Corps (ex- 
cepting those of one armored combat 
command and one regiment) were 
ashore, but scarcely half the trucks, 
tanks, tank destroyers, artillery, and 
other heavy equipment were on hand. 

Meanwhile, on 17 August, Patch 
and de Lattre decided to move the 
French troops up to the line of the 
Real Martin and Gapeau rivers on the 
19th instead of assembling all of 
French II Corps, including its missing 
equipment, near the beaches. This 
decision alone had the French forces 



three volumes), entries for 17-21 Aug 44 (copy in 
CMH, hereafter cited as Seventh Army Diary); Sev- 
enth Army G-2 Rpts 1-8 and 16-23 Aug 44; VI 
Corps G-2 Rpts 1-7 and 15-21 Aug 44; VI Corps 
War Rm Jnl 19-21 Aug 44; Seventh Army FO 2, 
1200 19 Aug 44; Truscott, Command Missions, pp. 
421-23; de Lattre, History, pp. 71-75; von Luttichau, 
"German Operations," ch. 10. 



134 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



moving westward at least six days ear- 
lier than originally planned. Finally, 
rather than waiting until 25 August, 
when all the French vehicles and 
equipment would be ashore, de Lattre 
wanted to attack Toulon as soon as 
possible, asking only for the return of 
Sudre's armor on the 19th and the 
loan of artillery ammunition from 
Seventh Army stocks. With this help, 
he felt he could launch an effective 
assault on 20 August before the Ger- 
mans had time to organize their de- 
fenses. Patch agreed to the accelera- 
tion, supplied the ammunition de 
Lattre needed, released CC1 to 
French control, and at noon on the 
19th directed de Lattre to move im- 
mediately toward Toulon and Mar- 
seille. 

Simultaneously, Patch ordered VI 
Corps to push westward to Aix-en- 
Provence, fifteen miles north of Mar- 
seille, in order to protect the north- 
ern flank of the attacking French. The 
American corps was also to secure 
crossings over the Durance River; 
seize Sisteron (which TF Butler 
reached about four hours later); con- 
tinue strong reconnaissance north- 
ward; and prepare to start the 36th 
Division north toward Grenoble. 

Seventh Army's new orders also re- 
flected changes in Allied estimates of 
German capabilities and intentions in 
southern France. Patch's intelligence 
staff had originally expected that Army 
Group G, after making every effort to 
contain the Allied beachhead, would 
conduct an all-out defense of Toulon 
and Marseille, and, after it had ex- 
hausted its defensive potential east of 
the lower Rhone, would ultimately 
undertake a fighting withdrawal up 
the Rhone valley. But late on 17 



August Seventh Army planners re- 
ceived information through ULTRA 
channels that forced them to revise 
this estimate. According to an 
ULTRA intercept, Army Group G was 
about to initiate a general withdrawal 
of its forces from southwestern 
France and the Atlantic coast south of 
Brest; if accurate, the withdrawal of 
the Nineteenth Army could not be far 
behind, and the success of the land- 
ing was assured. 

The German Withdrawal 

In Germany, OKW was more con- 
cerned about Army Group B in north- 
ern France than about Army Group G 
in the south. The Allied breakout 
from the Normandy beachheads at St. 
Lo, the failure of the German coun- 
terattack at Mortain, and the threat- 
ened Allied envelopment of the 
German forces in the Falaise Pocket, 
all pointed to a major German disas- 
ter in the north. At the same time, the 
Anvil landings made it impossible for 
Army Group G to withdraw from south- 
ern France to northern Italy if 
German defenses in the Normandy 
area finally collapsed. Accordingly, on 
16 August OKW put the issue before 
Hitler: either authorize the immediate 
withdrawal of Army Groups B and G or 
preside over the destruction of both. 
Having no real choice, Hitler reluc- 
tantly assented, and OKW quickly 
issued the necessary orders. 

From the start, German execution 
of the orders was hampered by poor 
communications. The withdrawal 
orders for Army Group G were in two 
parts. About 1115 on 17 August 
Blaskowitz's headquarters received 
the first part, pertaining mainly to 



BREAKOUT: 17-19 AUGUST 



135 



forces on the Atlantic coast and in 
southwestern France. This order 
came directly to Army Group G from 
OKW, and it was not until 1430 on 
the same day that Blaskowitz received 
an identical directive relayed through 
OB West channels. Presumably OKW 
dispatched the second part of the 
order, pertaining largely to the Nine- 
teenth Army, at 1 730 on 1 7 August, but 
neither OB West nor Army Group G re- 
ceived the second order that day. 
Such was the state of German com- 
munications that it was 1100 on the 
18th before Blaskowitz, via OKW 
radio channels, received the second 
part of the order, which directed the 
Nineteenth Army to withdraw northward 
from southern France. Meanwhile, by 
early afternoon of the 18th, ULTRA 
sources had supplied the Seventh 
Army with the second part; thus Patch 
and Wiese were probably evaluating 
the new information at about the 
same time. 12 Both armies now had to 
consider how best to react to the 
sudden change in plans. 

Upon receiving the Atlantic coast- 
southwestern France directive on the 
17th, Blaskowitz had ordered Lt. Gen. 
Karl Sachs, who commanded the 



12 The first part of the withdrawal orders is 
ULTRA Msg XL 6753, 171408 Aug 44, and the 
second is XL 6919, 181356 Aug 44, ULTRA Collec- 
tion, MHI. According to data presented in Bennett, 
Ultra in the West, p. 159, and Hinsley et al., British In- 
telligence in the Second World War, III, 2, pp. 274-75, 
the ULTRA decrypt of the first part of the with- 
drawal order was based on an ENIGMA intercept 
from Naval Croup West to Admiral Atlantic at 0940, 17 
August, and was dispatched to the field at 1408 that 
day. The second part was based on an intercept at 
1730, 17 August (source not noted), and dispatched 
to the field at 1356, 18 August. Although both mes- 
sages dealt with the withdrawal of Army Group G 
forces, each is distinct from the other and not 
"part" of a larger order. See also von Luttichau, 
"German Operations," ch. 10, pp. 1-7. 



LXIV Corps on the Atlantic front, to 
begin moving eastward immediately. 
The LXIV Corps was to assemble most 
of its assigned forces — the 16th and 
159th Infantry Divisions, miscellaneous 
army combat and service units, and a 
conglomeration of small air force and 
naval organizations — in the northern 
part of Army Group G's Atlantic sector. 
These units, representing three-quar- 
ters of LXIV Corps' strength and virtu- 
ally its entire combat complement, 
were to move generally eastward 
south of the Loire River to a rendez- 
vous with the main body of Army 
Group G north of Lyon. Left behind 
on the Atlantic coast were the garri- 
sons of three coastal strongpoints that 
Hitler directed be held to the end: De- 
fense Area La Rochelle, Fortress Gironde 
North, and Fortress Gironde South. LXIV 
Corps was also to leave a small force at 
Bordeaux until the German Navy 
could put to sea a few submarines un- 
dergoing repairs there. 

In the extreme southwest, 
Blaskowitz wanted Maj. Gen. Otto 
Schmidt-Hartung of the 564th Liaison 
Staff, a military government organiza- 
tion, to lead a motley collection of 
army service units and air force 
troops out of the Pyrenees-Carcas- 
sonne Gap-Toulouse area to join 
other Army Group G units along the 
west bank of the Rhone near Avi- 
gnon. 

The second OKW message — a 
"Hitler Sends" directive — ordering 
the northward deployment of the 
Nineteenth Army, called for a more 
carefully thought out withdrawal con- 
cept. On the western Mediterranean 
coast, the IV Luftwaffe Field Corps, with 
the 716th Infantry Division as its princi- 
pal combat component, was to retire 



136 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



up the west bank of the Rhone, pick- 
ing up Schmidt-Hartung's group, 
some local naval units, three infantry 
battalions of the 189th Division, one or 
two Luftwaffe infantry training regi- 
ments, and other miscellaneous units. 
On Army Group G's far eastern flank, 
the 148th Division and the 157th Re- 
serve Mountain Division no longer con- 
cerned Blaskowitz because the OKW 
withdrawal orders had transferred the 
two divisions to OB Southwest in Italy, 
and their retirement to the Alps 
seemed a relatively simple affair. 13 

Extracting that portion of the Nine- 
teenth Army engaged in combat was by 
far the most difficult undertaking. 
Blaskowitz's concept called for these 
forces to retire through successive de- 
fense lines, holding the U.S. Seventh 
Army east of the Rhone and south of 
the Durance until the 11th Panzer Divi- 
sion, the bulk of the 198th Division, 
and the two remaining regimental 
combat teams of the 338th Division 
could cross the Rhone to participate 
in a general withdrawal up the east 
bank. The garrisons at Toulon and 
Marseille, ordered by Hitler to fight 
to the death, were to tie down as 
many Allied troops as possible and 
ensure that the harbor facilities did 
not fall into Allied hands intact. 

On 18 and 19 August the staffs of 
the Nineteenth Army and LXXXV Corps 
drew up detailed plans for the with- 
drawal, specifying three successive 



13 Seventh Army intelligence during late August 
placed these two weak units, along with the 5th 
Mountain Division and elements of the 90th Panzer 
Grenadier Division, under the LXXV Corps, with a de- 
fensive mission along the Franco-Italian Alpine 
border, protecting OB Southwest's rear. "G-2 Histo- 
ry: Seventh Army Operations in Europe," I, 15-31 
August 44, Box 2, William W. Quinn Papers, MHI. 



north-south delaying positions, la- 
beled A, B, and C. The first, line A, 
began above Marseille and centered 
on Aix-en-Provence; the second, line 
B, was located between Lake Berre 
and the Durance River; and a third, 
line C, was just west of the Rhone. 
Kniess wanted his LXXXV Corps units 
to reach line A during the night of 
19-20 August; line B during the night 
of 20-21 August; and line C before 
daylight on the 22d. The Nineteenth 
Army expected him to hold along line 
C until evening on the 23d, by which 
time, Wiese hoped, all preparations 
would be complete for a rapid, well- 
organized withdrawal up the Rhone 
valley, with the IV Luftwaffe Field Corps 
on the west bank and the LXXXV 
Corps on the east. 

For the Germans, the appearance 
of American mechanized forces north 
of the Durance River on the 19th was 
an unwelcome surprise. As yet, Army 
Group G had little solid information 
concerning Task Force Butler, but 
Blaskowitz had learned enough by 
nightfall on the 19th to realize that he 
might have a problem securing the 
eastern flank of his forces withdraw- 
ing up the Rhone valley. With the 
Nineteenth Army already having trouble 
holding back VI Corps in the area 
south of the Durance River, a strong 
threat north of the Durance might 
turn a carefully phased withdrawal 
into a rout. On the other hand, 
Blaskowitz felt he had sufficient 
strength to deal with any immediate 
threat north of the Durance, and also 
estimated that for the time being a 
major thrust northward toward Gre- 
noble and Lyon was of secondary im- 
portance in Allied planning. 

On the evening of 19 August, 



BREAKOUT: 17-19 AUGUST 



137 



German attention thus remained fo- 
cused on the critical Avignon area, 
the focal point for German forces 
withdrawing both east across the 
Rhone and north across the Durance. 
By that time substantial components 
of the 11th Panzer Division and the 
198th and 338th Infantry Divisions still 
had to cross to the east bank of the 
Rhone on a single ferry near Avignon 
and on two more farther south. In ad- 
dition, the Germans had to hold 
crossings over the Durance east of 
Avignon until the LXXXV Corps as 
well as units coming over the Rhone 
south of Avignon could move north 
across the Durance. A strong Allied 
drive toward Avignon could cut off 
much of the LXXXV Corps. An addi- 
tional concern was an Allied drive to 
and across the Rhone south of Avi- 
gnon before the IV Luftwaffe Field 
Corps, withdrawing up the Rhone's 
west bank, could escape. If that hap- 
pened, the bulk of the IV Luftwaffe 
Field Corps would probably be lost. 
Under these circumstances, Generals 
Blaskowitz and Wiese could hardly 
avoid the conclusion that a strong 
Seventh Army drive to the Rhone in 
the Avignon area would be the Allies' 
most logical, timely, and likely course 
of action. 

In the Allied camp, however, the 
proper course of action was not so 
evident. Based on the ULTRA infor- 
mation that Patch had received on 17 
and 18 August, the Seventh Army's 
best move appeared to be an immedi- 
ate push toward the Rhone in an at- 
tempt to cut off the Nineteenth Army. 
But a number of factors stayed 
Patch's hand. Logistics had now 
become a major problem. A general 
shortage of trucks and gasoline meant 



that the Allied logistical system could 
not immediately support a major 
effort to cut off the Nineteenth Army at 
Avignon or farther north up the 
Rhone valley. For deeper operations 
inland, Toulon and Marseille would 
have to be taken and rehabilitated, a 
task that a strong German defense 
might make exceedingly difficult. In 
northern France, Eisenhower's forces 
were already suffering from a lack of 
operational ports, and Patch, with 
comparatively little over-the-beach 
supply capability, could not afford 
similar difficulties. Thus, on the 19th, 
he made Aix-en-Provence the western 
limit of Truscott's VI Corps advance, 
primarily to protect the Seventh 
Army's main effort, which was seizing 
Toulon and Marseille. 

Toulon and Marseille 

Before the invasion, de Lattre had 
planned to capture Toulon and Mar- 
seille in succession, but the acceler- 
ated French landings allowed him to 
envision almost concurrent actions 
against both ports. 14 He divided his 
forces into two groups: one under Lt. 
Gen. Edgar de Larminat consisting of 
two infantry divisions, some tanks, 
and the African Commando Group; 
the other under Maj. Gen. Aime de 
Goislard de Monsabert consisting of 
an infantry division, some tanks, and 
a ranger-type unit. De Larminat was 
to attack Toulon westward along the 
coast; de Monsabert was to maintain 
flank contact with the VI Corps on 
the right, strike into Toulon from the 



14 De Lattre, History, pp. 72-75, 95-97; Army B, 
Genl Opns Order 5, 19 Aug 44; Army B, Particular 
Order 8, 20 Aug 44. 



138 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



north, drive to the coast to encircle 
the city, and, if possible,, probe west 
toward Marseille. From the afternoon 
of 19 August through the night, 
French troops poured westward from 
the landing beaches to take positions 
for the assault against Toulon on the 
following day. 

If the Germans had had more time 
and materiel, they might have turned 
Toulon into a formidable fortress. 
The local garrison consisted of about 
18,000 troops, including 5,500 naval 
personnel and 2,800 air force men, 
plus naval and army artillery and anti- 
aircraft guns. Equally important, the 
port was virtually surrounded by 
rugged hills and mountains — those to 
the north rising to nearly 2,500 feet. 
If Toulon was strongly defended, the 
Allied timetable could be severely dis- 
rupted. However, from the start 
German command difficulties ham- 
pered the organization of a coherent 
defense. The senior admiral of the 
port had died of a heart attack several 
days before Anvil, and General 
Baessler, the senior army officer, had 
been cut off from the city several days 
afterward. Rear Adm. Heinrich 
Ruhfus, who subsequently took com- 
mand of the German defense, did the 
best he could and evacuated the in- 
creasingly restive civilian population, 
probably about 100,000 men, women, 
and children, prior to the battle. But 
Ruhfus needed time to reorganize his 
forces. The existing defenses were 
strongest in the wrong places. On the 
landward approaches, they were 
spotty and incomplete — in some cases 
no more than roadblocks — and little 
attention had been paid to the north- 
ern and western sectors of the city. If 
the Allies moved quickly, the Ger- 



mans would have difficulty putting up 
any effective resistance. 

The French attacked on the morn- 
ing of 20 August, and the first results 
were less than promising. 15 Heavy ar- 
tillery, antitank, and machine-gun fire 
was initially severe along the coastal 
road, and de Larminat's forces had to 
reduce, one by one, a series of major 
and minor strongpoints. Infantrymen 
clawed their way to the outskirts of 
Hyeres, nine miles east of Toulon, 
late in the day; but determined 
German resistance stopped the 



Fre nch drive from the northeast (Map 
8). In the west, however, de Monsa- 
bert's units achieved spectacular suc- 
cess. Swinging across high rough 
mountains, they outflanked the 
German defenders and pushed 
through the western approaches to 
the city, some leading elements pene- 
trating to within less than two miles 
of the Toulon waterfront. Another 
group, operating approximately six 
miles west of Toulon, cut the main 
highway between Toulon and Mar- 



16 The following account is based on de Lattre, 
History, ch. 5; La Premiere Division Blindee au Combat 
(Malakoff-Seine, 1947), pp. 32-52; de Monsabert, La 
3eme Division d'Infanterie Algerienne dans la Bataille de 
Provence, Toulon-Marseilles, Aout 1944 (Offenburg, 
n.d.), pp. 21-65; Histoire de la Neuvieme Division 
d'Infanterie Coloniale (Lyon, n.d.), pp. 30-38; La Ire D. 
F. L.: Epopee d'une Reconquete, Juin 1940-Mai 1945 
(Paris, 1946), pp. 124-27; 3d Algerian Inf Div, Jour- 
nale de Marche, 19-31 Aug 44; and French Army B, 
Comptes Rendus de 3eme Bureau, 18-31 Aug 44. 
For additional information on French units through- 
out the course of the later campaigns, see the Ser- 
vice Historique de l'Armee, Guerre 1939-1945: Les 
Grandes Unites Francoises, Hislorique Succinct, 6 vols. 
(Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1972-76), especially 
the daily corps situation reports in vol. V, "Cam- 
pagnes de France et d'Allemagnei" pt. Ill of three 
parts, or subvolumes) (hereafter cited as Hislorique 
Succinct); and interviews of Marcel Vigneras, a CMH 
historian, with various French commanders in 1945 
(hereafter cited as Vigneras Intervs). 



BREAKOUT: 17-19 AUGUST 



139 




MAPS 

seille, with elements of de Monsa- 
bert's armor approaching the strongly 
defended village of Aubagne, which 
was eight miles from Marseille and 
the key to the eastern approaches to 
that city. In addition, troops of the 
U.S. 3d Division, preparing to attack 
Aix-en-Provence, spilled into the 
French zone and came within six 
miles of Aubagne. 

On the morning of the 21st the 
French attacked Toulon with renewed 
vigor. While some units hammered 



away toward the city along the coast, 
others continued to encircle the port 
on the north and west. Progress in 
the north was disappointing as 
German resistance stiffened. One 
French tank company managed to 
penetrate to about three and a half 
miles from the principal square in 
Toulon, but was cut off, taking heavy 
casualties while holding out for 
almost thirty-six hours. 

Toward the end of the day, de Lar- 
minat, believing that the operations 



140 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



against the two ports demanded a 
unified command, requested permis- 
sion to take charge of the entire oper- 
ation. De Lattre turned the corps 
commander down and, after a lengthy 
argument between the two quick-tem- 
pered generals, dismissed de Lar- 
minat and took direct control of the 
operation. 16 The command change 
had little, if any, effect on French op- 
erations. 

On the 23d, the French continued 
to exert pressure on Toulon, forcing 
the Germans back into their inner 
fortifications, overrunning German 
strongpoints west of the city, and 
opening rail and highway connections 
toward Marseille. As the fighting con- 
tinued, the German defense lost co- 
hesion, and negotiations opened for 
the surrender of isolated German 
groups. The last organized German 
resistance ended on 26 August, and a 
small command garrison under Admi- 
ral Ruhfus surrendered on the 28th 
after two days of intense Allied air 
and naval bombardment. The battle 
cost the French about 2,700 men 
killed and wounded, while the Ger- 
mans lost their entire garrison of 
18,000. However, the French claimed 
to have taken almost 17,000 prison- 
ers, indicating that only about 1,000 
Germans lost their lives defending the 
city — hardly a serious attempt to 
follow Hitler's order to fight to the 
last man. Toulon had been secured a 
full week ahead of Allied expecta- 
tions. 

Even as the French invested 
Toulon, part of their forces were 
moving on their second objective, 



16 General de Larminat later received a command 
on the Atlantic coast. Vigneras Intervs, p. 14. 



Marseille. From the beginning of the 
attacks, de Lattre had decided that 
the conquest of Toulon would not 
absorb his entire force and directed 
de Monsabert to probe aggressively 
to the west. Although reminding his 
subordinate of Toulon's priority, de 
Lattre probably expected him to in- 
terpret his instructions as broadly as 
possible and to exploit favorable op- 
portunities to speed the seizure of 
Marseille. But de Monsabert's first 
objective was Aubagne. 

The German force at Aubagne was 
part of the 13,000-man garrison of 
Marseille, which included several key 
units of the 244th Infantry Division and 
2,500 naval and 3,900 Luftwaffe per- 
sonnel, all under the control of Maj. 
Gen. Hans Schaeffer, the 244th Divi- 
sion commander. The landward ap- 
proaches to Marseille gave the Ger- 
mans significant defensive advantages, 
but again time and lack of materiel 
worked against them. Their fortifica- 
tions were less extensive than at 
Toulon, and the half a million civilian 
inhabitants of the second largest city 
in France were becoming increasingly 
hostile. Schaeffer had chosen not to 
evacuate the city, and as the attacking 
French military forces drew near, the 
FFI became bolder, encouraged by a 
major civil uprising on the morning 
of 22 August. 

Without waiting to reduce Au- 
bagne, de Monsabert positioned his 
units, consisting of less than a divi- 
sion in strength, around the eastern 
and northern outskirts of the city to 
harass the confused defenders. Gains 
on the 22d put French troops within 
five to eight miles of the heart of the 
city, and they prepared to strike well 
into the port on the following day. 



BREAKOUT: 17-19 AUGUST 



141 





French Troops in Marseille, August 1944 



While approving de Monsabert's initi- 
ative, de Lattre was concerned by the 
dispersal of the attacking forces. 
Patch had informed him of the ap- 
pearance of the 11th Panzer Division in 
the Aix-en-Provence area, and de 
Monsabert's trucks and combat vehi- 
cles were running low on fuel. 17 Be- 
lieving that the French lacked suffi- 
cient strength for a full-fledged battle 
in Marseille, should it come to that, 
de Lattre instructed de Monsabert to 
back off a bit and ring the city with 
his troops, but to limit his offensive 
operations to clearing the suburbs 
until more units arrived. 

On the ground, de Monsabert be- 



"De Lattre, History, p. 100. See p. 142 of this 
volume. 



lieved that more could be lost than 
gained by holding back. He relayed 
de Lattre's orders to his own subordi- 
nates, but his instructions to Col. 
Abel Felix Andre Chappuis, who com- 
manded the 7th Algerian Tirailleurs, 
were flexible. Spurred by calls for as- 
sistance from resistance groups inside 
Marseille, Chappuis' infantry prowled 
the eastern suburbs; in the early 
hours of 23 August, one battalion, en- 
couraged by large crowds of exuber- 
ant French civilians, plunged into the 
city itself. By 0800, the tirailleurs had 
begun pushing through the city 
streets, and two hours later, after cut- 
ting through the center of Marseille, 
they reached the waterfront. Later 
that day the rest of the regiment en- 
tered the city from the north and 



142 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



northeast. This unplanned drive de- 
cided the issue, and the fighting, like 
the final days in Toulon, became a 
matter of battling from street to 
street, from house to house, and from 
strongpoint to strongpoint, with 
ardent FFI support. 

On the evening of 27 August, 
Schaeffer parlayed with de Monsabert 
to arrange terms, and a formal sur- 
render became effective at 1300, 28 
August, the same day as the capitula- 
tion at Toulon. The French had lost 
1,825 men killed and wounded in the 
battle for Marseille, had taken rough- 
ly 11,000 prisoners, and had again ac- 
complished their mission well ahead 
of the Allied planning schedule. 18 

West to the Rhone 

Meanwhile, the general picture of 
German weakness along the ap- 
proaches to the Rhone changed on 
the afternoon of 21 August when ele- 
ments of the 11th Panzer Division were 
reported west of the river. Patch and 
Truscott wondered whether the 
German armored movements, about 
which they could learn little, might in- 
dicate a counterattack. Truscott's only 
reserve, the 36th Division, was al- 
ready on its way north on the route 
followed by Task Force Butler, as was 
a regiment of the 45th Division. Trus- 
cott had been considering sending the 
entire 45th Division to the north, but 
now tabled this idea and ordered the 
3d and 45th Divisions to halt along a 
north-south line above Marseille. 19 



19 See La Berne Division d'Infanterie Algerienne dans la 
Bataille de Provence, p. 6; de Lattre, History, pp. 1 14— 
15; and Seventh Army G-3 Rpts. 

19 See pp. 150-151 of this volume. 



Unknown to the Allied command- 
ers, the Germans had no intention of 
mounting a counterattack. Wiese's de- 
cision to send a tank-infantry task 
force with about ten tanks toward 
Aix-en-Provence was a reaction to 
what had been, until the 21st, a 
steady Allied push to the Rhone. The 
task force was merely to give the 
Americans pause, something to think 
about. Wiese hoped to slow American 
progress and buy time for Kniess' 
LXXXV Corps withdrawal. Truscott, in 
any case, had been ordered to hold 
up until Toulon and Marseille were 
secure. As a result, Kniess was able to 
withdraw the remainder of his forces 
without interference. His corps as- 
sembled along the second defensive 
line on the morning of 2 1 August and 
pulled back easily to the final line 
during the following night. By the 
morning of the 22d, almost all units 
scheduled to cross over the Rhone 
from the west were on the eastern 
bank, and the bulk of Petersen's IV 
Luftwaffe Field Corps, still west of the 
Rhone, was moving north and coming 
abreast of Kniess on the other side. 

Deployed along the final defensive 
line early on the 22d, Kniess planned 
to hold until dark on the 23d. His de- 
fenses extended from the Rhone 
River at Aries, northeast to the Dur- 
ance River at Orgon, and then north 
thirty miles to Avignon and the main 
Rhone valley. The focal point was 
Orgon, where the Durance River 
passed through a defile two miles 
wide. The Germans had to hold the 
gap until all of Kniess' units could 
cross the river to the north bank. 
Concerned about his eastern flank, 
Wiese sent reconnaissance units of 
the 11th Panzer Division to probe north 



BREAKOUT: 17-19 AUGUST 



143 



of the Durance and ascertain the in- 
tentions of the American armored 
forces that Wiese knew were active 
there; but the unit found little except 
assorted FFI resistance units. 

Not until late in the morning of the 
22d was Truscott sufficiently satisfied 
about German intentions in the lower 
Rhone. With the attacks against the 
ports proceeding as planned, he re- 
leased another regiment of the 45th 
Division for redeployment northward, 
but decided to keep the 3d Division 
south of the Durance until French 
forces could relieve it. Both the 3d 
Division and the remainder of the 
45th advanced westward during the 
day, and both units reached Kniess' 
abandoned second line that after- 
noon. 

Wiese now began to worry less 
about his southern front. Increasingly 
disturbed by threats developing on 
the eastern flank of his withdrawal 
route, he ordered all elements of the 
11th Panzer Division to move immedi- 
ately north; he alerted Kniess to start 
the 198th Division moving up the 
Rhone as well, leaving him only the 
weak 338th Division and miscellaneous 



attached units to hold the Durance 
crossings at Orgon, to protect his 
southern flank, and to defend Avi- 
gnon against an American sweep. 
Wiese now wanted all his units to be 
north of the Durance well before dark 
on 23 August, the time previously set 
for abandoning the final line below 
the Durance. 

On the 23d, with the ports not yet 
secure, Patch and Truscott cautiously 
limited the 3d Division's movement 
west and thereby may have sacrificed 
an opportunity to cut off major por- 
tions of Kniess' corps south of the 
Durance or to block the withdrawal of 
Petersen's corps. Virtually undis- 
turbed during the daylight hours, the 
remainder of Kniess' forces crossed 
the Durance during the night of 23- 
24 August. On 24 August, as French 
units began to relieve elements of the 
3d Division, and Allied troops occu- 
pied Avignon unopposed, Kniess' 
LXXXV Corps escaped. His forces, to- 
gether with those of Petersen, now 
marched rapidly up the Rhone valley 
toward Montelimar, thirty miles away, 
and the focus of operations quickly 
began to shift to the north. 



CHAPTER IX 



The Battle of Montelimar 



As de Lattre's French forces pre- 
pared to move against the port cities 
with the bulk of Truscott's VI Corps on 
their northern flank, Patch began to 
consider his future course of action if 
all went well along the coast. His first 
task, to secure the landing area, had 
been accomplished; seizing Toulon 
and Marseille was his next major objec- 
tive. The ports would give him the lo- 
gistical base he needed for a sustained 
drive north to join Eisenhower's armies 
in northern France, his third major 
task. But until the ports were secure, 
supplying his American divisions with 
fuel, vehicles, and ammunition for any- 
thing so ambitious would be extremely 
difficult. Nevertheless, both he and 
Truscott were eager to exploit the 
rapid German withdrawal and unwill- 
ing to allow the remainder of the Nine- 
teenth Army to escape intact, especially if 
the Germans intended to make a stand 
farther up the narrow Rhone valley. 
Truscott had created Task Force 
Butler for this purpose. With its motor- 
ized infantry battalion, its approxi- 
mately thirty medium tanks, twelve 
tank destroyers, and twelve self-pro- 
pelled artillery pieces, and the armored 
cars, light tanks, and trucks of the cav- 
alry squadron, TF Butler represented a 
balanced, mobile offensive force. 



Task Force Butler ( 19-21 August) 

On 19 August, Butler's vehicles 
were already well on their way north. 
At noon, shortly before Butler 
reached Sisteron, Patch directed 
Truscott to alert one infantry division 
for a drive northward on Grenoble. 
Truscott, in turn, instructed General 
Dahlquist, the 36th Division com- 
mander, to be prepared to have his 
unit execute the order early the fol- 
lowing day. 1 The VI Corps command- 
er expected at least one regiment of 
the 36th Division to be at Sisteron on 
the afternoon of the 20th. Convinced 
of German intentions to withdraw up 
the Rhone valley, Truscott also ra- 
dioed Butler to hold at Sisteron and 
await the arrival of Dahlquist's units, 
adding that he should continue his 
patrols westward to "determine the 
practicability of seizing the high 

'In addition to unit records, the following ac- 
count is based on the following: Truscott, Command 
Missions, pp. 423-34; Seventh Army FO 2, 1200, 19 
Aug 44; 36th Div OI 2O0200B Aug 44 (note: early 
OIs identified only by date-time group); Msg, CofS 
36th Div to CO 143d Inf, 2208 19 Aug, 143d Inf 
Jnl, 19 Aug 44; Butler, "Task Force Butler"; Seventh 
Army Rpt, I, 188-228; and Hixon, "TF Butler." For 
another participant's account of the battle, see 
Adams Interv (Adams commanded the 143d regi- 
ment at Montelimar), pp. 61-65, Paul D. Adams 
Papers, MHI. 



THE BATTLE OF MONTELIMAR 



145 



ground north of Montelimar." 2 Mon- 
telimar, a small city on the east bank 
of the Rhone River about fifty miles 
north of Avignon and sixty miles west 
of Sisteron, lay astride the most prob- 
able German route of withdrawal. ( See 
Map 7.) 

Butler, whose radio communica- 
tions with VI Corps headquarters had 
become intermittent, never received 
the message. 3 The only instructions 
arriving during the night of 19-20 
August stated that the mission of his 
task force was unchanged. Shortly 
before midnight, Butler thus reported 
his intention to continue his recon- 
naissance activities the following 
morning, but warned that shortages 
of fuel and supplies would limit his 
advance to forty miles in any direc- 
tion. He emphasized his need for fur- 
ther instructions that would enable 
him to direct his main effort either 
north to Grenoble or west to Monteli- 
mar and the Rhone. The general also 
felt uneasy remaining stationary at 
Sisteron, deep in enemy territory, 
with limited logistical support. The 
FFI and his own artillery liaison 
planes had reported a strong, mobile 
German force at Grenoble and a large 
garrison at Gap, about thirty miles 
above Sisteron. Both could block But- 
ler's advance northward. Expecting 
Grenoble to be his immediate objec- 
tive, Butler decided to establish a 
strong outpost at the Croix Haute 
Pass, about forty miles north on the 



2 Truscott, Command Missions, p. 424. 

3 On Butler's radio and air liaison difficulties, see 
Hixon, "TF Butler," pp. 21-23 and Enclosure 5. 
Butler received an excellent SCR-299 mobile radio 
on the 19th, but it did not end his communications 
problems, possibly because of the increasingly diffi- 
cult local topography. 



main highway to Grenoble, and to 
dispatch a force to Gap. Meanwhile, 
he sent his operations officer in a liai- 
son plane to corps headquarters for 
more specific guidance. 

On the following morning, 20 
August, Butler grouped the main 
body of his task force at Sisteron and 
Aspres, thirty miles to the northeast, 
and sent reinforced cavalry troops to 
the pass at Croix Haute and to Gap. 
Both forces reached their objectives 
during the afternoon, the Gap patrol 
capturing over 900 German prisoners 
after a short skirmish aided by local 
FFI elements. By dusk Task Force 
Butler was thus spread over a wide 
area, but oriented more for an ad- 
vance on Grenoble than one on Mon- 
telimar. Supply convoys brought 
Butler news on the approach of 36th 
Division elements, but his operations 
officer returned with no information 
other than that new orders would be 
forthcoming sometime that night. 

On the evening of the 20th, Butler 
met with Brig. Gen. Robert I. Stack, 
the assistant division commander of 
the 36th. Stack, arriving with an ad- 
vance echelon of the division head- 
quarters and a regimental task force 
built around two battalions of the 
143d Infantry (its third battalion was 
with Butler), passed on to Butler what 
information he could: that the 36th 
Division was now displacing north; 
that Truscott had released the divi- 
sion's 142d Infantry from corps re- 
serve at noon that day, and this regi- 
ment was now arriving at Castellane, 
thirty-five miles away; and that the 
141st Infantry had finally been re- 
lieved by airborne troops on the Sev- 
enth Army's right flank and would 
follow north the next morning. How- 



146 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 




ever, he warned Butler that all divi- 
sional movements had been slowed 
by a serious shortage of fuel and 
trucks, and that most units were 
moving north in time-consuming 
company-sized shuttles. Precisely 
when they would reach Sisteron was 
unknown. The assistant division com- 
mander further explained that he in- 
tended to have the 143d Infantry 
strike out for Grenoble on the follow- 
ing morning, 21 August, and that it 
was his opinion also that Grenoble 
was Butler's most logical objective. 

Radioing Dahlquist, Stack asked 
whether the 143d Infantry was to use 
the same roads to Grenoble as Butler. 
Dahlquist, having talked with Truscott 
on the 19th but knowing little of But- 
ler's movements, responded that 



Butler was to remain in the Sisteron 
area until most of the 36th Division 
had arrived and promised to seek 
clarification on the matter from Trus- 
cott. Communicating with Stack sev- 
eral hours later, Dahlquist instructed 
him to hold all arriving division ele- 
ments in the Sisteron region and to 
cancel the move to Grenoble, explain- 
ing that the division's objective might 
be changed to the Rhone valley. Fur- 
ther orders, Dahlquist continued, 
would come early the following morn- 
ing. Stack relayed this information to 
Butler about 2300, 20 August, 

Unknown to Stack and Dahlquist, 
Truscott had met again with Patch 
around noon of the 20th, had in- 
formed him of the decision to send 
the 143d Infantry northward, and had 



THE BATTLE OF MONTELIMAR 



147 



requested his approval to follow the 
regiment with the rest of the 36th Di- 
vision and to send Task Force Butler 
west to the Rhone. Patch quickly 
agreed with these plans, which were 
bold undertakings considering the un- 
certain situation in the south and the 
lack of vehicles and fuel. Perhaps 
mindful of these constraints, Truscott 
did not immediately relay these 
orders to Butler, thereby failing to 
forestall the temporary dispersion of 
his task force. By the end of the day, 
however, the corps commander had 
become more certain of German in- 
tentions south of the Durance River 
and of his ability to reinforce Butler if 
necessary. Thus at 2045, 20 August, 
Truscott finally radioed specific in- 
structions to Butler, directing him to 
move to Montelimar at dawn with all 
possible speed. There Butler was to 
seize the town and block the German 
routes of withdrawal. The 36th Divi- 
sion would follow the task force as 
quickly as possible. 

Butler received the message that 
night and acknowledged receipt early 
the next morning. Nevertheless, Trus- 
cott also sent Lt. Col. Theodore J. 
Conway of his G-3 section to Butler's 
headquarters with more specific writ- 
ten instructions. Reaching Butler's 
command post at Aspres in the early 
hours of 21 August, Conway deliv- 
ered the letter from Truscott instruct- 
ing Butler to seize the high ground 
immediately north of Montelimar, but 
not the city itself, before dark that 
day. Two battalions of corps artillery 
were on their way to reinforce the 
task force, but initially only a single 
regimental combat team from the 
36th would support the effort; the 
rest of the division would follow later. 



Dahlquist would take control of But- 
ler's task force when he arrived in the 
forward area. 

The new orders presented several 
problems. First, neither Stack nor 
Dahlquist had been informed of the 
switch in the main effort from Greno- 
ble to Montelimar. Second, Butler's 
movements on the previous day had 
oriented his advance north toward 
Grenoble, and he needed consider- 
able time to reassemble his scattered 
forces. At the same time, he felt com- 
pelled to leave a small blocking force 
at Gap to secure his rear and, as di- 
rected by supplemental orders from 
Truscott, to retain the block at the 
Croix Haute Pass until 36th Division 
units could take over. 

By daybreak of 21 August, Butler 
had regrouped the bulk of his task 
force at Aspres. Leaving a small de- 
tachment at the pass and a larger one 
at Gap, he started the rest of his com- 
mand rolling westward. Moving with- 
out interference a good twenty-five 
miles, the task force reached Crest on 
the Drome River in the late after- 
noon, about thirteen miles east of the 
Rhone. Before it lay the Rhone valley 
and the setting for the eight-day 
battle of Montelimar. 

The Battle Square 

Almost twenty miles northeast of 
Montelimar, the town of Crest was at 
one corner of what became known as 
the Montelimar Battle Square, bound- 
ed by the Drome River on the north, 
the Rhone River on the west , and the 
Roubion River on the south {Map 9). 
With sides varying from nine to sev- 
enteen miles, the square, or rectan- 
gle, encompassed an area of about 



148 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 




Jasron 



MONTELIMAR 
BATTLE SQUARE 

I I Highground 

ELEVATIONS IN METERS 
3 



MILES 



MAP 9 

250 square miles on ground that al- 
ternated between flat, open farmland 
and rugged, wooded hills, which rose, 
often steeply, to more than 1,900 
feet. 

Montelimar itself is on a small, flat 
plain extending along the north bank 
of the Roubion River, a little over two 



miles east of the Rhone. Route N-7, 
the main north-south artery along the 
Rhone, passes through the city and 
then runs almost due north to the 
Drome. A secondary road, D-6, runs 
northeast from Montelimar about two 
miles to the small village of Sauzet 
and then turns east, skirting the 



THE BATTLE OF MONTELIMAR 



149 



northern bank of the Roubion. On 
Route N-7, about six miles above 
Montelimar, is the small town of La 
Coucourde. Between Montelimar and 
La Coucourde the eastern side of the 
Rhone valley narrows considerably, 
squeezing both N-7 and a parallel 
railway line between the Rhone and a 
high ridgeline, which the American 
troops labeled Hill 300. The ridgeline 
easily dominated Route N-7, as well 
as a parallel road on the west bank of 
the Rhone and the railways on both 
sides. Two other hills to the east, Hill 
294 and Hill 430, provided additional 
observation of both banks of the 
Rhone and, to the south, overlooked 
the approaches to Sauzet and D-6. In 
all, this high ground dominated the 
Rhone valley for a distance of roughly 
fifteen miles. All retreating German 
forces would have to pass through the 
bottleneck that Task Force Butler was 
about to squeeze. 

Initial Skirmishes (21-22 August) 

Late in the afternoon of 21 August, 
Butler's men moved south from Crest 
to Puy St. Martin, and then west to 
Marsanne in the center of the square, 
probing farther west through the 
Condillac Pass toward La Coucourde 
and south down Route D-6 toward 
Sauzet and Montelimar. Lt. Col. 
Joseph G. Felber, commanding the 
advance party, immediately recog- 
nized Hill 300 as the key terrain fea- 
ture and established his command 
post nearby at the Chateau Condillac. 
Unable to secure the entire ridgeline 
of Hill 300, Felber set up outposts, 
roadblocks, and guard points and 
posted accompanying FFI soldiers in 
Sauzet. 



German forces were already travel- 
ing north along the main highway, and, 
as soon as an artillery battery could un- 
limber its pieces, Felber had it open 
fire on the German traffic. A second 
battery and several tanks and tank de- 
stroyers soon added their fire, while a 
cavalry troop and some infantry placed 
a roadblock across the main highway, 
until a German attack at dusk drove the 
small force back into the hills. On the 
north bank of the Drome River, an- 
other cavalry troop, after moving west 
from Crest, fired on a German truck 
column fording a stream, and then ad- 
vanced and destroyed about fifty 
German vehicles. 

Upon reaching the forward area, 
Butler ordered the troop operating 
on the Drome back to Crest to pro- 
tect the roads to Puy St. Martin, but 
left a platoon on the north bank of 
the Drome as flank protection. After 
establishing his command post at 
Marsanne, he sent a message to Trus- 
cott's corps headquarters at 2330 
confirming his unit's arrival at the ob- 
jective area. His forces, Butler report- 
ed, were thinly spread, but with the 
expected reinforcements — a regiment 
of the 36th Division and more artil- 
lery — he was confident he could deal 
with a determined German reaction 
and launch a successful attack against 
Montelimar the following afternoon. 
However, until he was resupplied with 
ammunition, his artillery and tank de- 
stroyers would be unable to halt all 
the German traffic along the highway. 

The morning of 22 August found 
Butler still waiting for supplies and 
reinforcement. Meanwhile the Ger- 
mans moved first, mounting what was 
to be the first of many efforts to dis- 
lodge the Americans. Grouped 



150 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



around the reconnaissance battalion 
of the 11th Panzer Division and ele- 
ments of the 71st Luftwaffe Infantry 
Training Regiment, 4 an ad hoc force at- 
tacked north from Montelimar about 
noon, took Sauzet, and forced an 
American outpost and the FFI back 
into the hills. The action, however, 
proved to be a feint. The main 
German force reassembled south of 
the Roubion River, advanced nine 
miles east, and then swung north, 
crossing the river and advancing on 
Puy St. Martin and Marsanne, behind 
Butler's defenses. Almost unopposed, 
the Germans occupied Puy that after- 
noon, cutting the American supply 
line to Crest and Sisteron. 

The German success was short- 
lived. By chance, Butler's detach- 
ments at Gap and the Croix Haute 
Pass had been relieved by some of 
Stack's forces on the 21st, and both 
had been traveling to rejoin Butler. 
The Gap group had just turned south 
from Crest on the afternoon of the 
22d, and its commander, realizing the 
implications of the German advance, 
quickly organized a tank-infantry 
counterattack into Puy. While Sher- 
man tank fire blocked the roads lead- 
ing from Puy to Marsanne, the unit 
from Gap cleared Puy that evening, 
destroying ten German vehicles but 
suffering no casualties. 



4 The Luftwaffe unit, which had been leading Pe- 
tersen's withdrawing columns on the west bank of 
the Rhone, outdistanced the rest of the retreating 
German forces before losing most of its transporta- 
tion to Allied air attacks and FFI ambushes. Some of 
the regiment's troops then crossed the river near 
Montelimar and, in disarray, hitched rides on vehi- 
cles of the 11th Panzer Division. The Luftwaffe unit 
commander was later court-martialed for his role in 
the regiment's flight northward and for deserting 
his troops. 



Butler believed that the German 
attack was only a probe to determine 
his strength, and he expected a much 
stronger assault on the following day, 
23 August. Still no units of the 36th 
Division had arrived during the day. 
The only forces joining him on the 
22d were his own detachments from 
Gap and the pass and two 155-mm. 
battalions of VI Corps artillery. 
Equally important, his own artillery 
and armor were dangerously low on 
ammunition, with about twenty-five 
rounds per gun. To preserve his posi- 
tion, he needed both reinforcements 
and resupply. 

Reinforcing the Square 

Around 2200 on the evening of the 
22d, as Butler was beginning to de- 
spair, a single battalion of the 141st In- 
fantry arrived along with the regimen- 
tal commander, Col. John W. Harmo- 
ny. Harmony quickly brought Butler 
up to date on the situation in the rear. 
Throughout the previous day, 21 
August, he explained, General Stack 
had been waiting at Sisteron to learn 
whether to move the 143d Infantry to 
Grenoble or Montelimar. Dahlquist, 
the 36th Division commander, had not 
yet been able to determine where Trus- 
cott wanted the Rhone blocked. Al- 
though ready to push the 143d north to 
Grenoble or west to Montelimar, he 
had also ordered the 142d Infantry to 
Gap to protect his eastern flank and 
had sent Harmony's 141st regiment 
initially to Sisteron to serve as his re- 
serve. Unconfirmed intelligence re- 
ports still placed the 157th Reserve 
Mountain Division in the Grenoble-Gap 
region, and an attack on the 36th Divi- 
sion's northeastern flank thus re- 



THE BATTLE OF MONTELIMAR 



151 



mained a possibility. Dahlquist had 
then altered these plans on the evening 
of the 21st, judging that the 143d was 
too oriented on Grenoble to assist 
Butler and giving the mission to the 
141st. Harmony related that his regi- 
ment, the last major unit of the 36th 
Division to displace north, had arrived 
in the Sisteron-Aspres area only on the 
morning of the 22d and, due to the 
general shortage of vehicles, had not 
been able to advance much farther. 
Using captured German fuel stores, he 
had finally managed to bring the one 
battalion with him to Marsanne, but 
did not expect the rest of his units to 
reach the Montelimar area until the fol- 
lowing day. In the meantime, Butler 
would have to make do with this limit- 
ed reinforcement. 

The lack of reinforcements reflected 
American indecision. Throughout the 
day and evening of 2 1 August neither 
Patch nor Truscott had been willing to 
make Montelimar the major effort. 
They were still unable to predict when 
Toulon and Marseille would fall or 
confirm the beginning of a complete 
German withdrawal up the Rhone 
valley. On the morning of the 21st, 
Truscott had ordered one regiment of 
the 45th Division — the 179th Infan- 
try — to Sisteron, but had canceled the 
movement abruptly at 1330 when an 
ULTRA intercept informed him that 
units of the 11th Panzer Division had 
crossed the Rhone and were south of 
the Durance River. 5 Although the radio 



5 ULTRA Msg XL 7178 201029 Aug 44, ULTRA 
Collection, MHI; Truscott, Command Missions, p. 426. 
The message was also supposedly confirmed by 
POW reports according to "G-2 History: Seventh 
Army Operations in Europe," I, 15-31 Aug 44, 5, 
Box 2, Quinn Papers, MHI, but the POW item may 
have been only a cover story by Quinn, the Seventh 



intercept was accurate, the armored 
threat was just a ruse, for the 11th Pan- 
zers had been able to ferry only a few of 
their imposing machines across the 
Rhone. 6 Nevertheless, the move appar- 
ently succeeded, for Truscott stayed 
his hand; it was not until 2300 that 
evening that he finally ordered Dahl- 
quist to move on to Montelimar, and 
the next day before the 1 79th regiment 
resumed its movement north. 

When Truscott's orders arrived, 
late on the 21st, Dahlquist sent the 
rest of Harmony's 141st regiment on 
its way west and, through the 22d, 
tried to reorient the rest of his scat- 
tered division on Montelimar. To 
secure his northern flank, he decided 
to allow the 143d Infantry to resume 
its advance on Grenoble, which 
Americans entered that afternoon, 
and then have it swing west and 
south, through the city of Valence, 
into the battle square. 7 Transporta- 
tion problems, however, hindered his 
efforts to accelerate the movement of 
the 141st to Montelimar, and to 
follow it with the 142d regiment from 
Gap and the rest of the division. Im- 
patient with these delays, Truscott ar- 
rived at the 36th Division command 
post near Aspres shortly before noon 



Army G-2, to allow Patch to pass the information 
on to Truscott's subordinates and to the French 
without revealing the true source (see p. 124 of this 
volume). 

6 See "11th Panzer Division Rpt of MG von Wie- 
tersheim, 4 June 46," and G-3, 11th Panzer Division, 
"Remarks Regarding the War History of the Sev- 
enth US Army," 20 Jun 46 (both unpaginated), in 
John E. Dahlquist Papers, MHI. 

7 For a treatment of the FFI and American actions 
in the Grenoble area, and the withdrawal of the 
weak 157th Reserve Mountain Division east to the 
Franco-Italian border region, see unpublished 
paper, "United States and Resistance Cooperation 
in the Liberation of Grenoble" (copy CMH). 



152 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



and, finding Dahlquist absent, made 
his dissatisfaction clear to the division 
chief of staff, Col. Stewart T. Vincent. 
Noting the 143d advancing on Greno- 
ble, the 142d at Gap and points east, 
and elements of the 141st just pulling 
into Aspres, he demanded that the 
entire division move to the Rhone 
"forthwith," and attached the 179th 
regiment (45th Division) to the divi- 
sion for employment at Grenoble. 

Upon returning to his own com- 
mand post, Truscott composed a 
letter to Dahlquist with detailed in- 
structions. Indicating his displeasure 
with the division's deployments, he 
emphasized that "the primary mission 
of the 36th Division is to block the 
Rhone Valley in the gap immediately 
north of Montelimar." 8 Dahlquist was 
to push the entire 141st regiment to 
Montelimar as soon as possible; move 
the 179th to Grenoble and shift the 
143d from Grenoble to Montelimar; 
and march the rest of the 142d west 
to the Montelimar-Nyons area to pro- 
tect Butler's southern flank. He also 
suggested that Dahlquist screen But- 
ler's northern flank by reconnoitering 
toward Valence above Montelimar. 
The 45th Division, he explained, 
would ultimately assume responsibil- 
ity for the entire Grenoble-Gap-Sis- 
teron region. Truscott appreciated 
Dahlquist's logistical difficulties, how- 
ever, and arranged to have the Sev- 
enth Army headquarters rush a spe- 
cial truck convoy of fuel to the north 
during the afternoon. This resupply, 
together with captured gasoline, al- 
lowed the bulk of the 141st, following 
Harmony, to resume its march west at 
0330 early on the 23d. 



Truscott, Command Missions, p. 427. 



Late on the evening of the 22d, 
about 2100, Truscott and Dahlquist 
hashed out their differences over a re- 
cently opened telephone line. Dahl- 
quist recommended moving the 
179th, rather than the 143d, to Mon- 
telimar and even suggested sending 
the entire 45th Division there while 
the 36th dashed up to Dijon, 150 
miles farther north. Truscott brushed 
aside these proposals, showed in- 
creasingly less sympathy for Dahl- 
quist's transportation problems, and 
again emphasized the need to block 
the Rhone valley near Montelimar, 
telling him to get his men there even 
if they had to walk. His one conces- 
sion was to allow Dahlquist to move 
the 179th Infantry to the west in lieu 
of the 143d. 

Throughout the rest of the night 
and into the early morning hours of 
23 August, Dahlquist continued to 
shuffle the growing number of units 
under his command into some kind of 
order. Lack of fuel and transportation 
rather than lack of manpower re- 
mained his key problem. Soon after 
conversing with Truscott, he directed 
the 142d Infantry to start westward at 
once, traveling at night, not to the 
Nyons region southeast of Monteli- 
mar as Truscott had recommended, 
but rather to Crest and Butler's area. 
Several hours later, however, Dahl- 
quist countermanded the order and 
sent the 142d to Nyons, where the 
leading elements arrived about 0730 
on the morning of the 23d. 

Meanwhile, as the 179th Infantry 
was leaving Sisteron at 2230, 22 
August, Dahlquist changed its objec- 
tive from Grenoble to Montelimar, 
but, as the unit rolled into Aspres 
around midnight, he changed its des- 



THE BATTLE OF MONTELIMAR 



153 



tination back to Grenoble. Once 
there, the unit was to relieve the 143d 
Infantry, which would then move west 
to Valence and south to Montelimar. 
Again, the availability of fuel and ve- 
hicles dictated these troublesome 
changes, and Dahlquist and his staff 
labored to keep them to a minimum. 

Dahlquist's final orders for 23 
August appeared to put his house in 
order at last. Pushing the 143d to 
Montelimar through Valence would 
safeguard Butler's northern flank, and 
deploying the 142d into the Nyons 
area would cover Butler in the south; 
meanwhile, the movement of the 
141st directly to Montelimar would 
receive priority, and the divisional 
units could follow as transportation 
became available. Truscott approved 
these final dispositions and also or- 
dered the 180th Infantry, another 
45th Division regiment, to the Gap 
area from where it and the rest of the 
division could follow the 179th to 
Grenoble and points north at some 
future date. As a result, the 45th Divi- 
sion was soon able to relieve the last 
36th Division units in these areas, 
leaving Dahlquist free to devote his 
attention to the Rhone. But Truscott 
was still uneasy. To make sure that 
his operational concept was clearly 
understood by Dahlquist, he tele- 
phoned him once again at 0200 
hours, 23 August, and reminded him 
that his task was to halt the German 
withdrawal. Not a single German ve- 
hicle was to pass Montelimar. 

The German Reaction 

The German commanders were 
quick to appreciate the dangerous sit- 
uation. Late on 21 August German in- 



telligence reports had convinced 
Wiese, the Nineteenth Army command- 
er, that the Allied forces that had sud- 
denly appeared above Montelimar 
posed a serious threat to his north- 
ward withdrawal. 9 He responded by 
sending his most powerful and most 
mobile force, the 11th Panzer Division 
under Maj. Gen. Wend von Wieter- 
sheim, toward the troubled area. It 
was the division's reconnaissance bat- 
talion that had probed Butler's posi- 
tions on the 22d, while the rest of the 
11th, less the force feinting toward 
Aix-en-Provence, began blocking the 
major roads to the Rhone coming 
from the east. But the action around 
Puy that afternoon, when Butler's 
armor pushed light elements of the 
11th Panzers back across the Roubion, 
further alarmed Wiese, who then 
order von Wietersheim to speed his 
entire division northward. The panzer 
division was to clear the high ground 
northeast of Montelimar and secure 
the main highway from Montelimar 
north to the Drome. Wiese also di- 
rected General Kniess, the LXXXV 
Corps commander still at Avignon, to 
reinforce Wietersheim's unit with the 
198th Infantry Division within twenty- 
four to forty-eight hours. 

Fortunately for Butler, von Wieter- 
sheim found Wiese's orders hard to 
execute. Fuel shortages, the presence 
of service and administrative traffic 
on the roads, and the difficulties of 
marching at night under blackout 



9 For the account that follows, von Luttichau, 
"German Operations," chs. 13-14, has been supple- 
mented by materials in the 36th Division and VI 
Corps G-2 Journals and the daily G-2 Periodic Re- 
ports of Task Force Butler, the 36th Division, and 
VI Corps, as well as prisoner-of-war interrogations 
and translations of captured documents. 



154 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



conditions all delayed the movement 
of his division north. Groupe Thieme, 
the first major element of the divi- 
sion, reached Montelimar only at 
noon, 23 August, with a battalion of 
infantry, ten medium tanks, and a 
self-propelled artillery battery; the 
rest of the division was not expected 
to arrive before the 24th. Yet the 
Germans were determined to take the 
initiative. Although they were unsure 
of the exact strength of the American 
forces, they realized that every delay 
gave their enemy more time to build 
up his strength along their unprotect- 
ed line of withdrawal. 

In the Square (23-24 August) 

On the morning of 23 August, 
Dahlquist dissolved Task Force Butler 
as a separate entity, but allowed 
Butler to remain in command of 
those forces in the battle square area. 
Butler planned to have the 141st In- 
fantry, with the motorized battalion of 
the 143d attached (one of the original 
components of Task Force Butler), 
take control of the Rhone front from 
the Drome River south to the Rou- 
bion. Initially he tasked one battalion 
to secure Hill 300; another, with 
tanks and tank destroyers, to strike 
southwest from Sauzet to seize Mon- 
telimar; and the two remaining battal- 
ions to serve as a reserve near Mar- 
sanne, helping to secure Hill 300 as 
necessary. Small forces were to patrol 
the main supply route from Crest to 
Puy, guard both banks of the Drome, 
and secure Butler's southern flank on 
the Roubion. Butler also dispatched 
cavalry elements to the north and 
south in order to link up with 36th 
Division units on their way to Valence 



and Nyons. However, German activi- 
ties and the late arrival of the 141st 
Infantry put most of these plans in 
abeyance. 

Shortly after dawn on the 23d, the 
Germans again attempted to take the 
initiative. Above Montelimar elements 
of the panzer division's reconnaissance 
battalion, supported by a few tanks and 
self-propelled guns, infiltrated into 
Sauzet only to be thrown out by an 
American counterattack several hours 
later. About noontime, another small 
German armored column, repeating 
the maneuver of the previous day, 
struck across the Roubion River 
toward Puy St. Martin, but was also 
pushed back, this time by concentrated 
American artillery fire. Finally, Groupe 
Thieme entered the fray, moving from 
the Sauzet area toward the Hill 300 
ridge, but again American forces resist- 
ed the pressure and held. 

Uncertain of German strength and 
dispositions, the American counterat- 
tacks fared little better. About 1630 
that afternoon Butler sent an infantry 
battalion, some service troops, and a 
few tanks southward through Sauzet 
to seize Montelimar. But the German 
defense was far too strong, and a 
counterattack halted the American 
drive at 1800 scarcely a mile short of 
the city. Thus neither side had accom- 
plished a great deal during the 23d. 

Since the German withdrawal 
through the Montelimar area had not 
yet begun in earnest, Butler had not 
made a strong effort to interdict 
Route N-7 physically. Some ammuni- 
tion had come up during the night, 
and the artillery units had engaged 
several German convoys on the high- 
way, destroying nearly one hundred 
vehicles. But the need to conserve 



THE BATTLE OF MONTELIMAR 



155 



shells for defensive fire and the un- 
certainty of resupply limited the 
effort. The Germans, for their part, 
had begun to sort out a potentially 
monumental traffic jam at Montelimar 
and had started some administrative 
and service organizations moving 
northward again. However, they had 
made little progress clearing the 
danger area, especially the all-impor- 
tant Hill 300. Both sides required 
more strength at Montelimar, and 
both expected stronger actions by 
their opponents on the following day. 

Outside of the battle square, Dahl- 
quist inexplicably had shown little ur- 
gency in moving the rest of his divi- 
sion to the Montelimar area on the 
23d. In the north, the 143d Infantry 
did not leave Grenoble until 1730 
and, although encountering no oppo- 
sition, had stopped above Valence, 
more than twenty miles north of the 
Drome, that evening. In the south, 
the 142d Infantry had two infantry 
and one artillery battalions in the vi- 
cinity of Nyons — twenty-five miles 
southwest of Montelimar — by midaf- 
ternoon, but made no effort to move 
up to the battle square. Perhaps Dahl- 
quist felt that the coming battle would 
not be limited to the square, and was 
thus wary of pushing his entire divi- 
sion into an area that might become a 
German noose. The earlier German 
attacks on Butler's flank at Puy St. 
Martin supported this concern. 

Dahlquist's plans for 24 August 
were conservative. He ordered the 
143d to seize Valence and the 142d 
to extend its covering line from 
Nyons to within ten miles southeast 
of Montelimar. Only later, sometime 
during the night, did he order the re- 
maining battalion of the 142d that 



had been left at Gap to move to Crest 
as soon as the 180th Infantry of the 
45th Division relieved it. In the Mon- 
telimar Battle Square, Dahlquist 
wanted Butler to secure all the 
ground dominating the valley be- 
tween Montelimar and the Drome 
River and, if possible, to capture the 
city itself. But without the direct sup- 
port of the 143d and 142d regiments, 
Butler's ability to block the Rhone 
valley physically and to handle 
German counterattacks at the same 
time was becoming questionable. 

Wiese was more realistic. Through- 
out the 23d, he repeatedly urged von 
Wietersheim to rush his panzer divi- 
sion up to Montelimar, and pressured 
Kniess to have the 198th Division 
follow as soon as possible. He recom- 
mended that the 198th relieve 11th 
Panzer Division outposts and road- 
blocks at least as far north as Nyons, 
and have a regiment at Montelimar by 
the morning of the 24th. Then Wiese 
wanted von Wietersheim to clear all 
American forces from the area using 
the entire 11th Panzer Division, the 
regiment of the 198th, and the 63d 
Luftwaffe Training Regiment, which was 
then assembling at Montelimar. 

Wiese's subordinates had their own 
problems. At the time, Kniess was 
more concerned with having his corps 
across the Durance River that night, 
and made no provisions to deploy a 
regiment of the 198th up to Monteli- 
mar; von Wietersheim had to contend 
with crowded roads and shortages of 
fuel, and his armor arrived in the 
battle square area in dribs and drabs. 
Nevertheless, German strength in the 
Montelimar region on 24 August was 
enough to give Task Force Butler and 
the 36th Division considerable trou- 



156 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



ble. Another American attack that 
morning by a battalion of the 141st 
Infantry from Sauzet toward Monteli- 
mar again ended in failure when 
German troops, striking from the 
west, first drove a wedge into the 
American flank, and then infiltrated a 
maze of small roads and tracks to 
threaten the unit's rear. That evening, 
as Harmony attempted to withdraw 
the battalion, a second series of infan- 
try-armor counterattacks struck the 
unit's front and flanks, cutting the 
battalion off from Sauzet and dispers- 
ing many of the troops. American ar- 
tillery broke up further German ef- 
forts, and the battalion managed to 
fight its way back to Sauzet, but, as 
German pressure renewed, the Amer- 
icans again pulled out of the village 
and took positions on the southern 
slopes of Hill 430. The battalion lost 
about 35 men wounded and 15 miss- 
ing, captured 20 Germans, and esti- 
mated killing 20. 

Meanwhile, a few miles farther 
north, a second German attack had 
cleared several early morning Ameri- 
can patrols from Route N-7, and then 
had slowly pushed scattered elements 
of the 141st Infantry off most of the 
Hill 300 ridgeline. By dark the Ameri- 
can position had received a serious 
setback. Pleased, Wiese ordered von 
Wietersheim to finish the job on the 
following day with the rest of his 
units plus several battalions of the 
198th Division, which the army com- 
mander had personally dispatched 
north. 

Both Sides Reinforce 

Behind the battlefield on the 24th, 
Dahlquist now directed the rest of his 



units into the battle square, still with 
less dispatch and more confusion 
than was called for. That morning, for 
example, he ordered the 2d Battalion, 
142d Infantry (relieved of its defen- 
sive assignment at Gap), first to 
Crest, then to Nyons, and finally, as it 
entered Nyons at 1500, back to Crest. 
He then directed the rest of the 142d 
regiment, still in the Nyons area, to 
follow and take up positions in the 
battle square along the Roubion River 
guarding the American southern 
flank. Meanwhile, between 1300 and 
1830, Dahlquist dispatched no less 
than four contradictory directives — 
three by radio, one by liaison offi- 
cer — to the 143d Infantry still above 
Valence. The regiment started to re- 
ceive them at 1600 in the wrong se- 
quence. Not until 1900 did the regi- 
ment, reinforced by FFI units, get 
under way toward Valence only to be 
halted by German defenses on the 
outskirts of the town; and, as the 
American units reorganized for a 
second effort, another order arrived 
directing its immediate movement to 
Crest. Breaking contact, the 143d left 
Valence to the FFI and the Germans, 
but were unable to reach Crest and 
the battle square until early the fol- 
lowing morning, 25 August. 

By this time Dahlquist was becom- 
ing more concerned with defending 
his own positions than in attacking 
Montelimar or blocking the Rhone 
highways. Expecting larger German 
attacks on the 25th, he tried to orga- 
nize his forces into a tight defensive 
posture, with the 141st and 142d 
regiments on line (the 141st on the 
high ground and the 142d along the 
Roubion) and the 143d and Task 
Force Butler, now reconstituted, in 



THE BATTLE OF MONTELIMAR 



157 



reserve. The only offensive action 
planned for the next day was to have 
elements of the 141st attempt to cut 
Route N-7 at La Coucourde, several 
miles farther north of the previous 
day's battles. Truscott, who had vis- 
ited Dahlquist's forward command 
post near Marsanne that day, wanted 
a more offensive role for Butler, but 
had approved Dahlquist's plans, al- 
lowing the division commander to 
deploy his forces as he thought best. 

The confusion in American com- 
mand channels was far from over. 
About 2330 that night, 24 August, 
Dahlquist, concerned about protecting 
his flanks and rear, asked Truscott to 
send a regiment of the 45th Division to 
Crest early the next day. Although he 
had already instructed the 45th Divi- 
sion to move the 157th Infantry to Die, 
twenty miles east of Crest, Truscott re- 
fused the request, feeling that Dahl- 
quist's strength in the battle area was 
adequate. A few hours later, perhaps 
feeling that the division commander's 
defensive concerns might lead him to 
abandon his main mission, Truscott re- 
minded him that he still expected his 
division to block the main highway as 
soon as possible. His troops, Dahlquist 
radioed in reply, had been there during 
the day, and he assured Truscott that 
they were "physically on the road." 10 
However, although small groups of 
American soldiers may have reached 
the highway from time to time, the im- 
plication that they controlled any por- 
tion of N-7 was inaccurate; at best, 
Dahlquist's knowledge of his own 
troop dispositions may have been 
faulty. 



10 Rad, Dahlquist to Truscott, 0130 25 Aug 44, 
36th Div G-3 Jnl, 25 Aug 44. 



On the German side, the fog of war 
had begun to dissipate a little. On the 
evening of the 24th a detailed copy of 
Dahlquist's operational plans for 25 
August had fallen into their hands, 
giving the German commanders their 
first clear picture of the forces oppos- 
ing them at Montelimar. 11 As a result, 
Wiese now decided to move the 
entire 198th Infantry Division to the 
north and form a provisional corps 
under von Wietersheim, consisting of 
the 1 1th Panzer and 198th Divisions, 
the 63d Luftwaffe Training Regiment, the 
Luftwaffe 18th Flak Regiment (with guns 
ranging from 20-mm. to 88-mm. in 
caliber), a railroad artillery battalion 
(with five heavy pieces ranging from 
270-mm. to 380-mm. in caliber), and 
several lesser units. With these forces 
he expected von Wietersheim to 
launch a major attack before noon on 
the 25th and sweep the American 
units away. At the same time, Wiese 
continued to urge Kniess to move his 
corps north as fast as he could. 
Having withdrawn the last of the 
LXXXV Corps across the Durance 
during the night of 23-24 August, 
and having executed another with- 
drawal the following night without 
pressure from the south, Kniess was 
about fifteen miles north of Avignon 
but still more than thirty-five miles 
south of Montelimar on the morning 
of the 25th. Success at Montelimar 
would be for naught if Kniess' units 
were destroyed in the south. 

While the rest of the 36th Division 



11 Dahlquist later confirmed the loss, attributing it 
to a "very stupid liaison officer" who fled from his 
jeep when fired on by a small German roadblock, 
leaving the operational plans behind. Dahlquist Ltr 
(to wife), 29 Aug 44 (hereafter cited as "Dahlquist 
Ltr" and date), John E. Dahlquist Papers, MHI. 



158 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



entered the battle square that night, 
von Wietersheim, with Dahlquist's 
order in hand, issued detailed instruc- 
tions for his attack. He divided the 
units under this control into six sepa- 
rate task forces, four from the 11th 
Panzer Division — Groupes Hax, Wilde, 
and Thieme and the 11th Panzer Recon- 
naissance Battalion — and two from the 
198th Division built around the unit's 
305th and 326th Grenadiers. The 198th 
Division, reinforced with armor, would 
conduct the main effort. The 305th 
Grenadiers, attacking northeast of Mon- 
telimar, were to seize the eastern sec- 
tion of Hill 430, seal the western end 
of the Condillac Pass, and then move 
northwest to Route N-7. Slightly to 
the east, the 326th Grenadiers would 
support this effort by striking across 
the Roubion near Bonlieu, marking 
the weakly held boundary between 
the 141st and 142d Infantry, and then 
driving north. In the west, Groupe Hax, 
consisting of two panzer grenadier 
battalions and two battalions of the 
63d Luftwaffe Training Regiment, rein- 
forced by artillery and tanks, was to 
support the 198th Division's attacks by 
clearing the area north and northeast 
of Montelimar, the rest of Hill 300, 
and the western slopes of Hill 430. 
Meanwhile, Groupe Thieme, with one 
panzer grenadier battalion supported 
by tanks and the 119th Replacement 
Battalion, was to assemble at Loriol in 
the north and strike eastward along 
the south bank of the Drome River to 
Grane, five miles short of Crest; at 
the same time Groupe Wilde, consisting 
of another panzer grenadier battalion, 
an artillery battalion, and a few tanks, 
would relieve elements of Groupe 
Thieme outposting Route N-7 around 
La Coucourde. Von Wietersheim 



hoped that the 305th Grenadiers would 
be able to isolate the American infan- 
try and artillery in the Hill 300-Con- 
dillac Pass area, while the 326th Gren- 
adiers, coming up from the south, 
swept behind them and linked up 
with Groupe Thieme in the north, thus 
surrounding the entire 36th Division. 
Groupe Wilde, at La Coucourde, would 
act as a reserve, able to reinforce any 
of the various efforts or strike into 
the Condillac Pass on its own. Finally, 
the 11th Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion 
was again to push into the Puy St. 
Martin area, further disrupting Ameri- 
can lines of communication. Taking 
advantage of the dispersion of Dahl- 
quist's units, his logistical difficulties, 
and the temporary numerical superi- 
ority of the German forces, the ar- 
mored division commander hoped to 
destroy completely both Task Force 
Butler and the 36th Division. With 
this impediment out of the way, the 
German withdrawal could be easily 
accelerated and all delaying action 
could be focused on the U.S. 3d Divi- 
sion slowly moving up from the 
south. 

The Battle of 25 August 

The German plan of attack was am- 
bitious but exceedingly complex and 
depended greatly on the ability of the 
participating units to arrive at their 
assembly areas on time and ready for 
action. From the beginning, difficul- 
ties in communications and transpor- 
tation made a coordinated attack, as 
envisioned by von Wietersheim, im- 
possible. Groupe Thieme, setting out 
from Loriol around 1130, was the 
first unit under way. Pushing back 
outposts of the 117th Cavalry Squad- 



THE BATTLE OF MONTELIMAR 



159 



ron, the attackers reached Grane 
before 1400, while other German 
forces seized Allex, on the north side 
of the Drome, at approximately the 
same time. Alarmed, Dahlquist sent 
Task Force Butler, now little more 
than a weak battalion combat team, 
north from Puy St. Martin about half- 
way to Crest to protect his main 
supply route; Butler, in turn, dis- 
patched a tank platoon northwest 
over a mountain road toward Grane. 
Unable to retake Grane, the tank unit 
established a blocking position just 
south of the town, while a heteroge- 
neous collection of infantry, recon- 
naissance, armor, and engineer units 
hurriedly set up roadblocks west of 
Crest on both sides of the Drome. Al- 
though this mixed force expected a 
major German effort against Crest to 
follow, no further German advances 
along the Drome took place that day. 
Groupe Thieme had accomplished its 
mission and was content to defend its 
gains. 

Elsewhere German attacks accom- 
plished much less. Groupe Hax, for ex- 
ample, did not start out until 1400, 
and then succeeded only in consoli- 
dating earlier gains above Monteli- 
mar. Groupe Wilde did not reach its as- 
signed positions in the Hill 300-La 
Coucourde area until 1500, and the 
planned attacks of the 305th Grenadiers 
and the 11th Panzer Reconnaissance Bat- 
talion never even began. The only se- 
rious German threat in the south that 
day was the attack of the 326th Grena- 
diers in the Bonlieu area late in the 
afternoon. Although the grenadiers 
easily routed a company of the 111th 
Engineer Battalion which was holding 
the area, American artillery quickly 
broke up their advance and again 



forced the Germans back across the 
Roubion. The 1st Battalion, 143d In- 
fantry, part of Dahlquist's reserve, en- 
tered Bonlieu at 2100 hours that 
night without opposition. 

The American effort that day to cut 
Route N-7 turned out to be the most 
promising offensive action. Due to 
the early departure of Groupe Thieme 
and the late arrival of Groupe Wilde, 
the Germans had left the Hill 300-La 
Coucourde area nearly unprotected 
for much of the day. However, Har- 
mony's 141st Infantry was stretched 
thin along a six-mile front, and the 
regimental commander was unable to 
put together an attacking force until 
late afternoon. Finally, around 1600, 
while units of the 2d Battalion, 143d 
Infantry, secured the northern slopes 
of Hill 300, the 1st Battalion, 141st 
Infantry, moved west out of the Con- 
dillac Pass supported by some tanks 
and tank destroyers and struck out for 
La Coucourde. Despite the arrival of 
Groupe Wilde elements, the attack suc- 
ceeded, and by 1900 one and later 
two rifle companies, four tanks, and 
seven tank destroyers were blocking 
the highway. 

Whether the Americans could keep 
the block in place was critical. Until 
darkness halted observed fire, Ameri- 
can artillery prevented the Germans 
from assembling forces for a counterat- 
tack, but Harmony doubted that he 
could hold the roadblock through the 
night. Increased German pressure 
across his entire front made it impossi- 
ble to reinforce the blocking force, and 
he had considerable difficulty keeping 
it supplied. Accordingly, he suggested 
that the force retire into the pass for 
the night, blowing up several small 
bridges in the area before leaving, and 



160 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



return in the morning. But Dahlquist, 
complying with Truscott's orders, told 
him to maintain the block as long as 
possible. 

At this juncture, von Wietersheim 
took a personal hand in affairs. Dis- 
gusted with the failure of his plans 
and especially with the inability of his 
forces to keep at least the highway 
open, he organized an armored-infan- 
try striking force from units scraped 
up in the Montelimar-Sauzet area and 
led a midnight cavalry charge against 
the American roadblock. By 0100 on 
the 26th, German armor had dis- 
persed the blocking force, knocking 
out three American tanks and six tank 
destroyers and driving what was left 
back into the Condillac Pass. After re- 
opening the highway, Wietersheim 
swung some of his forces east to seize 
the high ground on the northern side 
of the pass to prevent the Americans 
from resuming their ground attacks 
on the highway in the morning. At 
the time, Harmony still had two rifle 
companies on the northern section of 
the Hill 300 ridgeline, but nothing 
strong enough to counter this new 
German force. 

Once again the action at Monteli- 
mar ended in a stalemate. Dahlquist 
had still committed little of his 
strength in La Coucourde area, and 
most of his 142d and 143d Infantry 
had seen no action. With so much 
American strength held in reserve or 
in supporting defensive positions, the 
inability of Dahlquist and Harmony to 
interdict the highway — their main 
mission — was not surprising. But Wie- 
tersheim had done little better. His 
grandiose attack plans had gone no- 
where and, in the end, had only 
spread his forces out over the periph- 



ery of the battle square, nearly lead- 
ing to his defeat in the center where 
it counted. 

More Reinforcements 

Additional American troops were 
on their way to the Montelimar 
sector. When Truscott learned of the 
German push toward Crest on the 
25th, he directed the 45th Division to 
send the 157th Regimental Combat 
Team and the 191st Tank Battalion 
north to the battle square area. 
Taking a southerly route via Nyons, 
one battalion and most of the tanks 
reached Marsanne about 2200 on the 
25th; the rest of the regiment along 
with one tank company began closing 
on Crest early the following morning. 
Truscott attached the units at Mar- 
sanne to the 36th Division, instructing 
Dahlquist to use them as his reserve, 
and ordered the rest of the force to 
remain at Crest as the corps reserve. 

Meanwhile, late on the 25th, Dahl- 
quist began planning for a limited of- 
fensive on the following day. He 
wanted Task Force Butler to attack 
first west from Crest along the south 
bank of the Drome and then south 
along Route N-7 to the Condillac 
Pass. At the time, Harmony's 141st 
Infantry was still maintaining its road- 
block near La Coucourde, and it ap- 
peared that no more Germans would 
reach the Drome. Nevertheless, ex- 
pecting stronger German counterat- 
tacks on the 26th in the southern 
sector of the battle square, Dahlquist 
continued to deploy his main 
strength, the bulk of the 142d and 
143d regiments, and the recently ar- 
rived battalion of the 157th with its 
attached tanks in reserve or in defen- 



THE BATTLE OF MONTELIMAR 



161 



sive positions along his northern and 
southern flanks. 

In the early morning hours of 26 
August, American tactical plans again 
underwent a major revision. The dis- 
persion of the 141st regiment's road- 
block at La Coucourde prompted 
Dahlquist to change Butler's mission, 
and he subsequently directed the task 
force to launch an attack at daylight 
from the western exit of the Condillac 
Pass to restore the roadblock. Butler's 
attack was still the only offensive 
action that Dahlquist planned for the 
26th. 

The Germans were also changing 
their plans. Late on the 25th von 
Wietersheim directed the 110th Panzer 
Grenadiers, previously split between 
Groupes Hax and Thieme, to displace 
north of the Drome and protect the 
routes of withdrawal beyond the river. 
At the same time he notified Wiese 
that he felt unable to retain command 
of the provisional corps and devote 
sufficient attention to his own divi- 
sion. Wiese, unhappy with the con- 
duct of operations that day, agreed 
and assigned most of the remaining 
forces in the Montelimar sector to the 
LXXXV Corps, directing Kniess to con- 
tinue the attacks against the American 
forces in the area on the 26th. For 
this purpose, he allowed Kniess to 
employ Groupes Hax and Wilde, both 
reduced to a single panzer grenadier 
battalion but each reinforced with 
tanks. 

On 26 August Kniess planned to 
renew the attacks north and northeast 
of Montelimar between Hill 300 and 
the Bonlieu area with the 198th Divi- 
sion's 305th and 326th Grenadiers. He 
expected Groupe Wilde to keep Route 
N-7 open and placed Groupe Hax in 



reserve near Montelimar. He also 
wanted the withdrawal of the rest of 
his corps speeded up. Still well south 
of Montelimar were the 308th Grena- 
diers plus other elements of the 198th 
Division; the 338th Division, less one 
regiment traveling up the west bank 
of the Rhone; several field artillery 
and antiaircraft battalions; some 
combat engineer units; and a host of 
lesser combat and service units of 
both the army and air force. Kniess 
had good reason for concern. Late on 
the 25th the U.S. 3d Infantry Division 
had caught up with several LXXXV 
Corps elements north of Avignon, and 
he had no way of predicting the 
speed of the American advance north. 
Accordingly, he canceled existing 
plans for a phased withdrawal and di- 
rected the 338th Division to begin a 
forced march that, he hoped, would 
bring it to Montelimar early on the 
26th. The 669th Engineer Battalion, re- 
inforced, was to man rear-guard 
blocking positions to cover the corps' 
withdrawal and delay the 3d Division. 

In the south, the 3d Division had 
started north on the 25th after receiv- 
ing orders from Truscott to push 
reconnaissance patrols across the 
Durance and prepare for a drive on 
Montelimar. But the progress of the 
division was continually delayed by 
general transportation problems and 
the necessity of waiting for French 
units to take over American positions 
south of the Durance. Leading ele- 
ments of the 3d Division reached Avi- 
gnon about 1400, 25 August, and, 
finding the Germans gone, moved fif- 
teen miles farther north to Orange 
where, about 1730, they ran into the 
German rear guard. Under pressure 
from Truscott to strike northward 



162 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



with all possible speed, General 
O'Daniel, the division commander, 
planned to bring his main strength up 
to the Orange-Nyons area on the 
26th, and continue northward with 
two regiments abreast — the 15th In- 
fantry along the Rhone and the 30th 
Infantry to the east. But, like Dahl- 
quist, he lacked the fuel and transport 
to move quickly. 

Battles on the 26th 

Well before the 3d Division re- 
sumed its march north on 26 August, 
Task Force Butler, after a grueling 
night march, assembled in the Condil- 
lac Pass, ready to drive west toward 
the highway. The new American 
attack developed slowly against scat- 
tered but determined German resist- 
ance. After a few initial patrols toward 
La Coucourde failed to reach Route 
N-7, Butler sent two rifle companies 
of the 3d Battalion, 143d Infantry, 
over the northern nose of the Hill 
300 ridgeline around 1330; and as 
they started down the northwest slope 
toward the highway, he reinforced 
them with a platoon of medium tanks 
and a few tank destroyers moving di- 
rectly out of the pass. Skirmishing 
with German infantry most of the way 
and harassed by German artillery fire, 
these forces butted into Groupe Wilde, 
which had moved up from the south 
and swung east toward the pass. Si- 
multaneously, other German forces 
attacked from the north, and indeter- 
minate fighting continued throughout 
the entire area until dusk when the 
American armor finally pulled back 
into the pass for the night, leaving 
the two infantry companies clinging 
to the northern slope of Hill 300. An- 



other attempt to cut Route N-7 had 
failed, and again the primary reason 
for the failure was the inability of the 
36th Division to commit sufficient 
strength at the crucial point. 

The German attacks on the 26th 
were even less successful. In the Mon- 
telimar corner of the battle square, 
Kniess' offensive began at 1130 with a 
lone battalion of the 305th Grenadiers 
moving toward Hill 430 and was 
quickly repelled by American artillery 
and tank fire. A second German 
attack at 1530 in the Bonlieu area, 
again hitting the crease between the 
141st and 142d regiments, penetrated 
a little over a mile north of the Rou- 
bion, but was also stopped by Ameri- 
can artillery, and the position was re- 
stored by counterattacks of the 1st 
Battalions of the 142d and 143d regi- 
ments, both pulled out of reserve. In 
the northern sector of the square, the 
11th Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion 
broke through American roadblocks 
to come within two miles of Crest, 
but was too weak to press home the 
attack; during the afternoon, units of 
the 157th Infantry helped restore 
American blocking positions near 
Grane and Allex. 

The German Withdrawal 
(27-28 August) 

During the 26th, American artillery 
managed to block the road and rail 
lines along the Rhone intermittently, 
but, still short of ammunition, was 
unable to halt the steady stream of 
German foot and vehicle traffic that 
continued up the valley and across 
the Drome. Although much of the 
movement consisted of artillery, anti- 
aircraft, and service units, it also in- 



THE BATTLE OF MONTELIMAR 



163 



eluded major combat units. Dawn on 
the 27th found all of the 110th Panzer 
Grenadiers, the 11th Reconnaissance Bat- 
talion, the 119th Replacement Battalion, 
most of the 119th Panzer Artillery Regi- 
ment, and part of the 15th Panzer Regi- 
ment (Groupe Thieme) safely north. 
Guarding the Drome crossings were 
Groupe Wilde and units of the 305th 
Grenadiers, while south of the Hill 300 
bottleneck were Groupe Hax, the bulk 
of the 198th Division, the 338th Divi- 
sion, and — mainly on Hill 300 — the 
63d Luftwaffe Training Regiment. The 
338th had not moved north as rapidly 
as Kniess and Wiese had hoped, and 
it had only begun to arrive at Monte- 
limar after dark on the 26th. Howev- 
er, the pursuing 3d Division proved 
even slower and, beset by severe fuel 
shortages, was ten miles short of 
Truscott's objective by dusk of the 
26th and still fifteen miles south of 
Montelimar. 

Although not surprised by Dahl- 
quist's failure to block N-7, Truscott 
had about lost patience with the divi- 
sion commander. Arriving at Dahl- 
quist's headquarters on the morning 
of the 26th, Truscott intended to re- 
lieve him, complaining that his situa- 
tion reports had proved erroneous 
and that he had failed to carry out his 
main objective, interdicting the 
German withdrawal. 12 According to 
Truscott, Dahlquist explained that in 
the confusion of battle his subordi- 
nate units had sometimes misin- 
formed him regarding their locations 
and progress, and that continuous 
German attempts to strike at his 
supply routes at Crest and Puy had 
occupied much of his reserve force. 



Truscott, Command Missions, p. 430. 



Shortages of transportation, fuel, and 
ammunition were also constant prob- 
lems, and the net result had been the 
impossibility of concentrating suffi- 
cient combat power to hold the ridge- 
line on Hill 300 or to establish a per- 
manent block across the highway in 
the face of several desperate German 
divisions. Somewhat mollified by a 
firsthand look at the terrain, Truscott 
decided not to take any action against 
Dahlquist for the moment, but re- 
mained unhappy with the state of af- 
fairs. 

At the conclusion of the conference 
Truscott directed Dahlquist to employ 
Task Force Butler once again to es- 
tablish a roadblock near La Cou- 
courde and then, if possible, move 
the force north across the Drome and 
then east to Crest to close all of the 
Drome crossing sites. He also sug- 
gested that Butler could then head 
north, bypass Valence, and take Lyon, 
thereby preventing the IV Luftwaffe 
Field Corps from crossing to the east 
side of the Rhone north of Monteli- 
mar. For this purpose, he gave Dahl- 
quist permission to use the 3d Battal- 
ion, 157th Infantry, and its attached 
armor as he saw fit, but Truscott re- 
tained the main body of the 157th In- 
fantry under his own control, direct- 
ing it to move west on the north side 
of the Drome to help Butler close the 
crossing sites. Truscott also hoped 
that O'Daniel's 3d Division could 
push substantial strength into the 
Montelimar area on the 27th to re- 
lieve some of Dahlquist's units. 

Much to Truscott's disappointment, 
the fighting on 27 August was incon- 
clusive. Butler, strengthened by the 
3d Battalion, 157th Infantry, again 
pushed west from the Condillac Pass 



164 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



toward Route N-7, starting a battle 
that seesawed back and forth all day 
and that ended in failure for the 
Americans. During the afternoon, 
mixed elements of the 141st and 
143d Infantry managed to push the 
Germans off the eastern slopes of Hill 
300, but German infantry held on to 
the remainder of the ridge for the 
rest of the day. To the south, further 
German attacks against 141st Infantry 
units on Hill 430 were repulsed but, 
worried about another German attack 
on his southern flank, Dahlquist kept 
most of the 142d Infantry idle in de- 
fensive positions along the Roubion. 
Meanwhile, in the north, American 
elements entered Grane late on the 
27th without opposition and the 
157th Infantry cleared Allex; but nei- 
ther force was able to move any 
closer to the Livron-Loriol area that 
day. South of the battle square, the 
3d Division's northward advance was 
still hampered by continued transpor- 
tation problems as well as by road- 
blocks of mines, booby traps, felled 
trees, destroyed bridges, and other 
obstacles, and by evening the unit was 
still four miles short of Montelimar. 

On the German side Wiese had 
become increasingly nervous at the 
steady northern progress of the 3d 
Division and the slow speed of the 
LXXXV Corps withdrawal. He had ex- 
pected to have all his units across the 
Drome by nightfall, except the 198th 
Division. Instead Kniess had kept 
Groupes Hax and Wilde south of the 
Drome and had committed part of the 
338th Division to what the Nineteenth 
Army commander felt were fruitless at- 
tacks against Hill 430 and the Condil- 
lac Pass. Meanwhile, German materiel 
losses in the battle square were 



mounting at a rate that Wiese consid- 
ered alarming. Route N-7 was littered 
with destroyed vehicles, guns, and 
dead horses; the railroad was blocked 
with wrecked engines and cars, in- 
cluding those of the railway artillery 
battalion. Personnel losses had also 
risen sharply on the 27th, not only 
from American bombardments but 
also as a result of Kniess' unprofitable 
attacks. 

At dusk on the 27th Wiese directed 
Kniess to pull the 338th Division and 
Groupes Hax and Wilde across the 
Drome at all costs on the 28th. The 
198th Division and the rear-guard en- 
gineers were to continue to hold back 
the 3d and 36th Divisions and, once 
the other units were across the 
Drome, to escape as best they could. 

If Wiese was pessimistic, Truscott 
was still optimistic. On the basis of 
overly enthusiastic messages from 
Dahlquist on the 27th and erroneous 
intelligence reports, Truscott believed 
that major portions of the LXXXV 
Corps had been destroyed south of the 
Drome and that only remnants of 
three German regiments remained in 
the Montelimar area. Equally signifi- 
cant, he knew that the French had 
now cleared nearly all of Toulon and 
Marseille without much of a fight, and 
the remaining German forces in both 
ports were expected to surrender for- 
mally at any moment. It was time to 
begin the drive to northern France in 
earnest. He therefore gave orders for 
the 3d and 36th Divisions to mop up 
the area between the Drome and 
Roubion rivers on 28 August, for 
Task Force Butler and the 157th In- 
fantry to occupy Loriol and Livron, 
and for units of the 45th Division to 
begin moving north from Grenoble 



THE BATTLE OF MONTELIMAR 



165 



toward Lyon. He expected both banks 
of the Drome to be in American 
hands by noon, and hoped that the 
36th Division could start one regi- 
mental combat team north before 
dark. 

Truscott soon discovered that he 
had greatly overestimated the speed 
of the German withdrawal and under- 
estimated the strength of their forces 
still south of the Drome. When units 
of the 141st Infantry, now command- 
ed by Lt. Col. James H. Critchfield, 13 
tried to advance toward Montelimar 
on the morning of the 28th, they 
were quickly repelled by the 198th Di- 
vision's 308th Grenadiers supported by 
heavy artillery and mortar fire; Critch- 
field spent the better part of the day 
trying to extricate two of his attacking 
infantry companies that had been sur- 
rounded. Task Force Butler's drive on 
Loriol was equally unsuccessful. Now 
built around the 3d Battalion, 157th 
Infantry, the task force ran into heavy 
German tank and antitank fire at 
Loriol, losing three medium tanks 
and two tank destroyers within a few 
minutes, which forced Butler to pull 
back at once. North of the Drome the 
157th Infantry did little better when 
stubborn resistance from the 110th 
Panzer Grenadiers reinforced with tanks 
stopped their attack just short of 
Livron. 

Meanwhile, in the center, the 2d 
and 3d Battalions, 143d Infantry, 
spent most of the day defending 
American positions in the area of 



13 Colonel Harmony had been wounded on the 
27th, and Critchfield, commander of the unit's 2d 
Battalion, headed the regiment until Col. Clyde E. 
Steele took over on the 29th. 



Hills 300 and 430 and the Condillac 
Pass. Although American artillery 
continued to shoot up German traffic 
along the road, the effort to block the 
highway with ground troops in the 
area of La Coucourde was not re- 
sumed. To the south, units of the 3d 
Division, which had conducted a day- 
long running engagement with the 
German rear guard, entered the 
southern outskirts of Montelimar that 
evening, but were unable to secure 
the city until the following morning, 
29 August. 

Although the Germans had again 
frustrated American attempts to cut 
their route of withdrawal during the 
28th, their losses in men and materiel 
continued to multiply. South of Mon- 
telimar the 3d Division overran a 
column of some 340 German vehicles 
and took almost 500 German prison- 
ers. Moreover, although Groupe Hax, 
part of the 933d Grenadiers, and ele- 
ments of the 338th Division's artillery 
and special troops had arrived safely 
across the Drome, Kniess was unable 
to move either the 338th Division or 
Groupe Wilde northward. Instead he 
was forced to commit Groupe Wilde 
and the 338th's 757th Grenadiers at 
Loriol to hold back Task Force 
Butler; to use a battalion of the 933d 
Grenadiers, 338th Division, and another 
from the 305th Grenadiers, 198th Divi- 
sion, to secure the high ground be- 
tween the Condillac Pass and Loriol; 
and to retain other elements of the 
305th and the 63d Luftwaffe to hold at 
least a portion of Hill 300. At dusk 
these units were still in place, while 
the main body of the 198th Division 
was concentrated a few miles north of 
Montelimar, just above what was left 
of the rear-guard engineer battalion. 



166 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



End of the Battle 

With Groupe Wilde and elements of 
the 338th Division protecting the 
Drome crossings near Livron and 
Loriol, Kniess ordered Brig. Gen. 
Otto Richter, commanding the 198th 
Division, to break out of the battle 
square during the night of 28-29 
August and the morning of the 29th. 
For the escape, Richter decided to 
divide his forces into three tactical 
columns, each built around one of his 
grenadier regiments and each moving 
north during the early hours of the 
29th by a separate route. On the west 
a column led by the 305th Grenadiers 
was to move directly up Route N-7; 
two other columns, one centered 
around the 308th Grenadiers and the 
other around the 326th Grenadiers, 
were to push up separately through 
the valley between Hills 300 and 430 
and try to swing back to the highway 
near La Coucourde. 

Meanwhile Dahlquist, intent on re- 
suming his clearing operations that 
night, ordered the 141st regiment to 
again strike south against Montelimar, 
supported by the 143d Infantry, 
which was also to advance toward the 
city through the valley between Hills 
300 and 430. In addition, he ordered 
Task Force Butler to make another at- 
tempt against Loriol at first light, and 
directed the 142d Infantry, which had 
replaced the 157th north of the 
Drome, to continue west through 
Livron to block the Drome fords. In- 
evitably the opposing forces would 
clash head on. 

As units of the 143d Infantry 
moved south through the Hill 300- 
430 valley in the early hours of 29 
August, their leading elements ran 



into the two columns of the 198th Di- 
vision moving north. In the violent 
night melee that followed, some of 
the German soldiers managed to 
break through the American lines 
and, under constant fire, reach Route 
N-7 by morning; most, however, were 
either killed or captured during the 
lengthy skirmish, just about ending 
the effectiveness of at least two of the 
three 198th Division regiments. Mean- 
while the 305th'?, column, which was 
supposed to wait until the other 
groups had cut back onto the high- 
way, left early during the night and 
made good its escape directly up 
Route N-7 without opposition. 

As daylight broke on the morning 
of the 29th, the 141st Infantry re- 
sumed its drive on Montelimar, polic- 
ing stragglers of the 198th; capturing 
General Richter, the division com- 
mander; and joining forces with the 
3d Division's 7th regiment coming up 
from the south. During the final fight- 
ing of 28-29 August, the three con- 
verging American regiments captured 
over 1,200 Germans (including about 
700 by the 143d Infantry in the area 
of the Hill 300-430 valley) while suf- 
fering 17 killed, 60 wounded, and 15 
missing. The 15th Infantry, 3d Divi- 
sion, clearing Montelimar, captured 
another 450 Germans; and the 3d Di- 
vision's 30th Infantry, which contin- 
ued mopping up during the day, took 
several hundred more. On the 30th, 
those 3d and 36th Division units re- 
maining in the battle square swept 
the entire area, taking nearly 2,000 
additional prisoners. 

To the north, along the Drome, the 
142d Infantry cleared Livron by 0930 
on the 29th, and, despite stiff German 
opposition, Task Force Butler secured 



THE BATTLE OF MONTELIMAR 



167 



Loriol during the afternoon. Howev- 
er, neither force could make a final 
push to the Rhone that day to stop 
Germans who were still crossing at a 
few small fords. These eleventh-hour 
German escapees still had some 
punch left, and during the night they 
swallowed up two American road- 
blocks, capturing 35 American troops. 
Total casualties during the 29th for 
the two attacking American forces on 
the Drome were about 13 killed, 69 
wounded, and 43 missing, but ap- 
proximately 550 more German sol- 
diers were prisoners. 

For the Nineteenth Army, 29 August 
was the last day of cohesive action in 
the battle square. As long as they 
could, German soldiers continued to 
flee over the Drome River in ones 
and twos and disorganized groups. 
Groupe Wilde pulled out during the 
early afternoon, as did what was left 
of the 338th Division, followed later in 
the day and into the evening by those 
elements of the 198th Division that 
had managed to break through from 
the south. This last-minute success, 
however, came at the expense of 
other German units, such as the 757th 
Grenadiers, that were virtually de- 
stroyed during the day trying to pro- 
tect the Loriol-Livron crossings. 

The battle officially ended on the 
morning of 31 August when the 142d 
regiment finally reached the Rhone 
River, clearing the north bank of the 
Drome and capturing 650 more Ger- 
mans in the process. Although ex- 
hausted and thoroughly disorganized, 
the Nineteenth Army had managed to 
save the bulk of the 11th Panzer Divi- 
sion, Kniess' LXXXV Corps with two 
greatly weakened infantry divisions, 
and a host of miscellaneous units, 



parts of units, and individual groups 
of army, air force, navy, and civilian 
personnel. West of the Rhone, the 
bulk of the IV Luftwaffe Field Corps, in- 
cluding the understrength 716th In- 
fantry Division and an assortment of 
units under the 189th Division, had 
pulled abreast of Montelimar as early 
as 26 August and had also continued 
north, led by the 71st Luftwaffe Infantry 
Regiment, which, fleeing in disarray, 
had already reached Lyon. At Vienne, 
fifty miles north of the Drome, the 
corps crossed the Rhone, joining the 
LXXXV Corps' flight northward with 
elements of the 11th Panzers constitut- 
ing a new rear guard. The battle of 
southern France was over, and the 
race for the German border had 
begun. 

Montelimar: Anatomy of a Battle 

Was Montelimar an Allied victory, a 
German victory, or something in be- 
tween? Casualty figures tell part, but 
by no means all, of the story. Ameri- 
can units involved in the battle suf- 
fered 1,575 casualties — 187 killed, 
1,023 wounded, and 365 missing. 
These losses, representing well under 
5 percent of the American strength 
ultimately committed, hardly seem 
heavy considering the size of the 
forces engaged, although the concen- 
tration of casualties in a few infantry 
battalions of the 141st and 143d regi- 
ments attests to the bitterness of 
some of. the fighting and the length of 
the conflict. 

German losses were considerably 
higher. American forces engaged in 
the attempt to cut the Rhone valley 
escape route captured some 5,800 
Germans from 21 through 31 August. 



168 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



Of these, about 4,000 were from 
LXXXV Corps units and most of the 
remainder from assorted Luftwaffe ele- 
ments. In addition, the withdrawal 
along the east bank of the Rhone cost 
the German Army about 600 men 
killed, 1,500 wounded, and several 
thousand others missing during the 
same time period. West of the river, 
the IV Luftwaffe Field Corps lost ap- 
proximately 270 killed, 580 wounded, 
and 2,160 missing, mostly due to air 
attacks, FFI operations, and the gen- 
eral disorganization that characterized 
the movement north. 

Taking into account all available in- 
formation, the German Army units 
moving up the east bank of the 
Rhone suffered about 20 percent cas- 
ualties. More important, most of 
these losses came from front-line 
combat units, greatly reducing their 
effective combat strength, which was 
defined by the German Army as fight- 
ing troops forward of the infantry bat- 
talion headquarters. For example, the 
338th Division (omitting the attached 
933d Grenadiers) was down to 1,810 
combat effectives by the 31st, and the 
198th Division was reduced to about 
2,800. In addition, both units had lost 
much of their artillery as well -as sub- 
stantial quantities of other equipment, 
such as vehicles, radios, crew-served 
weapons, and small arms. Thus, al- 
though the total manpower, or 
"ration," strength of these units 
might have been considerably more 
than their combat effective strength — 
as determined by German account- 
ing — they could assemble little more 
than a single, weak regimental combat 
team apiece for action. At the end of 
the month, the U.S. Seventh Army in- 
telligence thus rated the 338th Division 



as only 20 percent effective but, over- 
generously, put the equally damaged 
198th at 60 percent. 

In contrast, the 11th Panzer Division, 
the "Ghost Division," survived the 
Montelimar withdrawal in relatively 
good condition, suffering no more 
than 750 casualties and arriving at 
Vienne with about 12,500 effectives. 
The unit also brought out 39 of its 42 
artillery pieces, over 30 of its 40-odd 
heavy tanks, and 75 percent of its 
other vehicles. With accuracy, the 
Seventh Army G-2 rated the panzer 
division as 75 percent effective. How- 
ever, the 11th had not really done 
much during the campaign. While 
serving as the Nineteenth Army's re- 
serve, it had only been committed to 
battle briefly and had led, rather than 
followed, the main German withdraw- 
al, with disastrous consequences , for 
the less mobile infantry divisions. 

Despite the heavy German losses in 
personnel and equipment, the escape 
of the Nineteenth Army was a disap- 
pointment for Truscott, Dahlquist, 
and Butler. Truscott, looking back on 
his experiences in the Italian cam- 
paign, was acutely aware of the need 
to destroy or at least damage the re- 
treating German forces as severely as 
possible. From the beginning, the ob- 
lique advance to the Grenoble-Monte- 
limar area had been a gamble, one 
that attempted to take advantage of 
the hasty German withdrawal as well 
as the failure of Wiese to protect the 
flanks of his narrow route of retreat. 
The courageous assistance of the 
FFI — harassing German detachments, 
providing valuable local intelligence 
to the advancing Americans, and aug- 
menting their combat forces when- 
ever possible — was another advantage 



THE BATTLE OF MONTELIMAR 



169 



enjoyed by the Allies that is often 
overlooked. But the inability of the 
Allied commanders to concentrate 
their limited forces early enough at a 
single point — at Montelimar or, had 
circumstances dictated otherwise, per- 
haps Loriol, Valence, or even farther 
north — made it extremely difficult to 
stop the withdrawal, especially consid- 
ering the strong German response 
once the danger was perceived. Allied 
logistical problems in the north — par- 
ticularly the shortage of transport — 
caused by the rapid success of the 
landing itself, also reduced the flexi- 
bility of the northward thrust and 
made an earlier decision on a focal 
point necessary. Had this been done, 
the Seventh Army might have been 
able to push more fuel and ammuni- 
tion up to the battle square in sup- 
port, and Butler and Dahlquist might 
have been able to throw much more 
of their strength in the Hill 300-La 
Coucourde area sooner. But until a 
firm decision was made to focus on 
Montelimar and was communicated to 
all participants, the tactical command- 
ers could not begin to close the 
Rhone valley escape route. As a new 
division commander and one who was 
unfamiliar with Truscott's methods of 
operation, Dahlquist was unsure of 
himself and needed more guidance. 
At the time, he blamed himself for al- 
lowing the Germans to escape, feeling 
that he had had "a great opportunity" 
and had "fumbled it badly." 14 But, 
operating on a logistical shoestring, 
the so-called hard-luck 36th Division 
had at least given a beating to almost 
every retreating German division, 



forcing them to run a gauntlet they 
would not quickly forget. 

The Seventh Army's logistical prob- 
lems were not mysterious. Its rapid 
progress inland had created a gaso- 
line shortage as early as D plus 1; by 
21 August the three American divi- 
sions alone required approximately 
100,000 gallons of fuel per day. At 
the time there was a surplus of am- 
munition in the beachhead area, but 
the three beach fuel dumps had only 
about 11,000 gallons of gasoline left 
between them. Using captured fuel 
stores at Draguignan, Le Muy, and 
Digne (26,000 gallons) helped some- 
what, as did severe rationing, but 
there was no easy solution. Employ- 
ing the 36th Division's trucks to mo- 
torize Task Force Butler only com- 
pounded both the fuel and vehicle 
shortage within the Allied command. 
As a result, the Seventh Army and the 
VI Corps lacked the wherewithal to 
assemble Task Force Butler and the 
36th Division quickly at Montelimar 
and support the force with adequate 
rations, fuel, and munitions from the 
beach depots 200 miles to the rear. 
Although the ammunition expendi- 
tures of American artillery units in 
the Montelimar area were approxi- 
mately three times higher (about 
ninety 105-mm. and thirty 155-mm. 
rounds per tube per day) than else- 
where, there was never enough to 
support these infantry and armored 
units adequately or to interdict the 
highway by fire alone. 15 

From Patch's broader perspective, 
the results were more satisfying. His 



"Dahlquist Ltr, 25 Aug 44, John E. Dahlquist 
Papers, MHI. 



15 U.S. Seventh Army, Report of Operations, I, 316- 
18. For further discussion of logistical conditions at 
the time, see ch. 11. 



170 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



army's main objective — securing the 
ports of Toulon and Marseille — had 
been accomplished in record time, 
but it was a task that had kept most of 
the Allied combat power — including 
vehicles, fuel, and munitions — well 
south of the Durance. Patch's prior- 
ities forced first Butler and then Dahl- 
quist to grapple with the more power- 
ful German units at Montelimar with 
little direct support. Although they 
subsequently failed to halt the 
German retreat, both Task Force 
Butler and the 36th Division acquitted 
themselves well against often superior 
German forces that continually at- 
tempted to outflank their blocking 
positions. The ensuing battle greatly 
sapped the strength of the remaining 
German units, while having little 
effect on the American forces in- 
volved. The action also forced Wiese 
to use his most mobile force, the 11th 
Panzer Division, at Montelimar rather 
than as a rear guard. As a result, the 
3d Division had a relatively easy time 
following the Germans up the Rhone, 
while the capture of Grenoble and its 
subsequent occupation by 45th Divi- 
sion units that were poised to strike 
even farther northward was an added 
bonus. 

On the German side, General 
Wiese had managed to save much of 
his army, in part due to the early de- 
cision of OKW to withdraw German 
forces from southern France. Howev- 
er, he could not have been too happy 
over either the Montelimar episode or 
the rapid fall of the Mediterranean 
ports. His own failure to secure the 



flanks of the Nineteenth Army's with- 
drawal was the result of poor plan- 
ning and poor intelligence. Aside 
from the capture of the 36th Divi- 
sion's order of 24 August, similar dif- 
ficulties beset the German command- 
ers throughout the battle. As a result, 
they rarely had a clear idea of the 
strength and dispositions of the 
forces opposing them at Montelimar 
and were unable to take advantage of 
weak points in the American lines. 
Like the Americans, the Germans suf- 
fered from an inability to concentrate 
sufficient strength at the crucial time 
and place, and were thus unable to 
exploit local tactical successes. Piece- 
meal commitment of battalions, small 
task groups, and hastily assembled 
provisional units characterized Ger- 
man efforts throughout the battle. 
Moreover, the German commanders 
often spread out these forces over a 
broad front on terrain that generally 
favored the defense. Had they con- 
centrated on holding the Hill 300 
ridgeline and directing the remainder 
of their available strength at one of 
the American flanks — Crest or Puy, 
for example — they might have been 
able to extract much more from the 
south and, at the same time, deal a 
severe blow to their pursuers. Thus, 
while Montelimar was certainly not 
the victory that Truscott had hoped 
for, it highlighted serious German 
military weaknesses as well as demon- 
strated the willingness of Allied com- 
manders to undertake a certain 
degree of risk and initiative at the 
operational level of war. 



CHAPTER X 

Pursuit to the North 



With its rear area secure and the 
Germans in full retreat, the Seventh 
Army's next objective was to move 
northward as rapidly as possible and 
join Eisenhower's SHAEF forces by 
linking up with General Patton's 
Third Army, which was operating on 
Eisenhower's right, or southern, wing. 
While French units policed up the 
port cities, Patch's staff began push- 
ing more supplies to Truscott's VI 
Corps units to support the trek north. 
At the same time, the influx of 
troops, supplies, and equipment over 
the original landing beaches contin- 
ued, with the remainder of the French 
combat units gradually coming ashore 
along with the rest of the American 
logistical and administrative support 
units. As all these forces sorted them- 
selves out, it was evident that the Sev- 
enth Army had become almost inad- 
vertently involved in a race to north- 
eastern France against what remained 
of Wiese's Nineteenth Army, as well as 
the rest of Army Group G's forces flee- 
ing from western France. The 
German goal was to reach the area in 
front of the Reich border before the 
Allied advance, join with Army Group 
B, and present a unified front to the 
invaders. As a result, from the last 
days of August to mid-September, the 



two opposing armies in southern 
France raced up the Rhone valley and 
proceeded northward, one after the 
other — each often more concerned 
with reaching its objective than in im- 
peding the progress of the other. 
Clashes between the two forces were, 
however, unavoidable. 

Allied Plans 

On 25 August, as the battle of 
Montelimar was reaching its climax, 
Patch was already issuing orders that 
outlined his plans for future Seventh 
Army operations. 1 In accordance with 
preassault concepts, he intended to 
have Truscott's VI Corps drive rapid- 
ly northward, first to the city of Lyon, 
75 miles up the Rhone from Monteli- 
mar, and then to Dijon, 110 miles far- 
ther. Subject to later arrangements 
with Eisenhower, VI Corps would 
then strike northeast from Dijon 160 



'Information on Allied plans in this section is 
based on the following: Seventh Army Rpt, I, 220-21; 
de Lattre, History, pp. 121-23; Truscott, Command 
Missions, pp. 430-33; Seventh Army Diary, 25-28 
Aug 44; Seventh Army FOs 3 and 4, 25 and 28 Aug 
44; Seventh Army OI 8, 30 Aug 44; First French 
Army Genl Opns Orders 17 and 24, 26 and 29 Aug 
44; First French Army Preparatory Order, 28 Aug 
44; Rad, de Lattre to Gen Alphonse Juin (CofS, 
French Natl Def), 1 Sep 44; VI Corps Fid Msgs, 
241000 and 281200 Aug 44. 



172 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



miles to Strasbourg on the Rhine. 
The tasks assigned to de Lattre's 
French forces were more complex. 
The French would first complete the 
seizure of Toulon and Marseille; 
second, screen the area west of the 
Rhone, pushing reconnaissance ele- 
ments north along its west bank; and 
third push north and northwest on 
the right of the VI Corps, moving 
into Alsace and the upper Rhine 
valley through the Belfort Gap, about 
90 miles east of Dijon. Finally, the 1st 
Airborne Task Force would continue 
to screen the Franco-Italian border 
area assisted by French forces when 
available. 

For the immediate future Patch's 
orders of 25 August specified that the 
airborne force, continuing to operate 
under the direct control of the Sev- 
enth Army, would secure the army's 
east flank from the mouth of the Var 
River near Nice, north into the Alps 
about 60 miles to the Larche Pass. 
The VI Corps, in addition to fighting 
it out at Montelimar, was to push 
east, northeast, and north to a line 
extending about 130 miles northwest 
from the Larche Pass through Greno- 
ble to Lyon. The French units would 
receive their own operational sectors 
as their forces became available for 
the drive north. 

On 28 August, with the Montelimar 
episode nearing an end, Patch issued 
more specific guidance, repeating his 
desire to have the VI Corps start its 
drive north to Dijon as soon as possi- 
ble and confirming Lyon as Truscott's 
immediate objective. West of the 
Rhone the French were to reconnoi- 
ter 100 miles west and southwest of 
Avignon, while pushing forces north- 
ward in support of the Lyon attack. 



East of the Rhone, de Lattre's forces, 
Army B, were to support the right 
flank of the VI Corps by moving 
north through Grenoble and east of 
Lyon, before turning their advance 
toward the Belfort Gap and the 
Rhine. In addition, Patch instructed 
de Lattre to relieve the airborne units 
and any other American forces in the 
area of the Franco-Italian border. 

General de Lattre was understand- 
ably upset with these instructions. If 
followed, they would divide what was 
to become the First French Army into 
several parts — two protecting the Sev- 
enth Army's extreme eastern and 
western flanks, and two others on 
either side of the VI Corps support- 
ing its drive to Lyon. With such dis- 
persion de Lattre doubted whether he 
could project much of a force into the 
Belfort Gap area, especially with his 
weaker logistical organization. He put 
these arguments to Patch, and the 
two subsequently reached a compro- 
mise. The 1st Airborne Task Force 
would continue to hold the area from 
the Mediterranean to the Larche Pass, 
but de Lattre would accept responsi- 
bility for the border region north of 
the pass. West of the Rhone, Patch 
conceded that the "reconnoitering" 
of southwestern France could be 
done by a small reconnaissance force 
assisted by FFI elements; de Lattre 
agreed to send both the French 1st 
Armored Division, now unified under 
Maj. Gen. du Touzet du Vigier, and 
the 1st Infantry Division up the west 
bank of the Rhone as soon as they 
were available. East of the Rhone 
other French units would secure the 
VI Corps' right flank, pushing north 
from Grenoble. However, after the 
fall of Lyon, the two French divisions 



PURSUIT TO THE NORTH 



173 



coming up the west bank of the 
Rhone would redeploy east of VI 
Corps and join the rest of the French 
forces, thereby uniting de Lattre's 
army for a stronger drive on the Bel- 
fort Gap. 

During the planning process, Patch 
viewed the capture of Lyon primarily 
as a stepping stone to the German 
border rather than as another chance 
to trap the retreating Nineteenth Army, 
and he paid relatively little attention 
to the German forces retiring across 
the Alps into northern Italy. But the 
Nineteenth Army's line of withdrawal 
and Truscott's aggressive tempera- 
ment made it inevitable that the pur- 
suing Americans would exploit every 
opportunity to destroy their retreat- 
ing foe. Lyon represented the first 
focal point of such an effort. Situated 
at the juncture of the Saone and 
Rhone rivers, Lyon was the third larg- 
est city in France and an important 
road and rail center, whose seizure 
would have important logistical as 
well as propaganda value. The city 
also controlled the two most logical 
German routes of withdrawal. One 
route led northeast through the towns 
of Bourg-en-Bresse and Besancon to 
the Belfort Gap. Another went almost 
due north up the Saone valley to 
Dijon, from where Army Group G 
forces could continue north to join 
other German commands facings Ei- 
senhower's armies or could swing 
back east, either through Besancon or 
routes farther north, to the Belfort 
Gap. The longer Lyon-Dijon route 
was much easier and faster, while the 
Lyon-Besancon route, although short- 
er, offered many natural defiles that 
French and American forces could at- 
tempt to interdict as they had at Mon- 



telimar. 

The Seventh Army's G-2 sectibn 
believed that the Nineteenth Army's 
main body would follow the Lyon- 
Bourg-Besancon route of withdrawal 
because the Lyon-Dijon route would 
put the enemy forces in an area that 
was becoming a major battlefield. In 
contrast, Truscott's corps staff esti- 
mated that Wiese's forces would take 
the northern route to Dijon and then 
simply swing east, heading for the 
natural defenses of the Vosges Moun- 
tains. From the Vosges the Nineteenth 
Army could anchor its left, or south- 
ern, flank on Belfort and the Swiss 
border, while stretching its right out 
to Army Group B forces north of Dijon. 
French intelligence estimates general- 
ly agreed with this second assess- 
ment. 2 

The German Situation 

The VI Corps' projection proved 
accurate, for the bulk of the Nineteenth 
Army was indeed to head north from 
Lyon to Dijon. OB West ordered Army 
Group G to extend what would 
become its right wing northeast of 
Dijon toward the retreating Army 
Group B forces and establish a strong 
defensive line from Dijon through Be- 
sancon to the Swiss border. Such a 
line would not only secure the ap- 
proaches to the Belfort Gap, but 
would also create a German pocket, 
or salient, west of the Vosges. At the 
insistence of Hitler and OKW, OB West 
intended to launch an armored coun- 
terattack from this salient against the 



2 Seventh Army G-2 Rpt, 29 Aug 44; VI Corps G- 
2 Daily Rpts, 29-31 Aug 44; First French Army G-2 
Daily Rpt, 29 Aug 44. 



174 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



southern flank of Patton's eastward- 
moving Third Army. Blaskowitz, the 
Army Group G commander, also 
wanted to hold the salient until the 
LXIV Corps, withdrawing from the At- 
lantic coast, could reach Dijon and 
strengthen the new line. 3 

With the Montelimar episode on 
their minds, both Blaskowitz and 
Wiese were also concerned with the 
possibility of the Seventh Army exe- 
cuting a wide envelopment northeast 
of Lyon in another attempt to trap 
their retreating forces. Erroneous re- 
ports that strong Seventh Army for- 
mations had already pushed east of 
the city increased their alarm. Almost 
equally worrisome was the news that 
the FFI had started a major uprising 
within the city, a development that 
could further retard the German with- 
drawal. On 26 August Blaskowitz ac- 
cordingly had sped units north from 
the Montelimar sector to put down 
the Lyon uprising and suggested that 
Wiese pull the 11th Panzer Division out 
of the Montelimar battle to protect 
the Nineteenth Army's flank east of 
Lyon. At the time the armored divi- 
sion was still fully engaged, however, 
and the best Wiese could do was 
direct the IV Luftwaffe Field Corps to 
accelerate its withdrawal all the way 
to Lyon and protect the LXXXV Corps ' 
route of withdrawal up the east bank 
of the Rhone. 



'Sources for German planning and operations in 
this chapter include von Luttichau, "German Oper- 
ations," chs. 10-11 and 14-15; Seventh Army G-2 
History, Opns in Europe, Part I and Annex V, Part 
II and Annex III; Hugh M. Cole, The Lorraine Cam- 
paign, United States Army in World War II (Wash- 
ington, 1984), ch. 1 (hereafter cited as Cole, The 
Lorraine Campaign); and official records of the G-2 
sections of the Seventh Army, VI Corps, and the 
36th and 45th Infantry Divisions. 



Following the LXXXV Corps' escape 
past Valence and Vienne during 29- 
30 August, Wiese arranged for a 
phased withdrawal through Lyon, as- 
signing the IV Luftwaffe Field Corps the 
task of holding the city and control- 
ling traffic through it. He intended to 
withdraw all of the rear-guard forces 
into the city on the night of 31 
August, and have the bulk of the 
army start north up the Saone valley 
toward Dijon the following evening; 
he then intended to pull his rear 
guard out of Lyon on the night of 2-3 
September after it had destroyed all 
bridges across the Rhone and Saone 
rivers in the area. During the exodus, 
the 11th Panzer Division was to guard 
the army against any flanking attack 
from the east — a threat that Wiese 
knew by the evening of 30 August 
had again become imminent. 

North to Lyon 

The Allied drive on Lyon was not 
as far advanced as the German com- 
manders at first feared. On 25 August 
both Truscott and de Lattre were 
hard-pressed to round up any combat 
units for the thrust north. The bulk of 
the French forces were still clearing 
Toulon and Marseille, while most of 
Truscott's VI Corps was deeply in- 
volved in the Montelimar battle. 
Nevertheless, on 26 August Truscott 
directed General Eagles, the com- 
mander of the 45th Division, to initi- 
ate reconnaissance toward Lyon from 
Grenoble, and on the 27th the two 
commanders agreed to start the 45th 
Division's 179th regiment moving 
north on the next morning. To 
strengthen the effort, Truscott also 
ordered the 157th regiment, then in 



PURSUIT TO THE NORTH 



175 



the Crest-Livron area, to join the 
drive; for the same reason, he re- 
lieved the 180th regiment from the 
mission of securing the corps' eastern 
flank. Now regarding any threat from 
the Franco-Italian border area as 
remote, he replaced the 180th Infan- 
try with a small provisional task force 
made up of reconnaissance, mortar, 
and antitank units. 

Patch's directive of 28 August con- 
firmed the VI Corps' new objective, 
Lyon. Since the first French units 
were not due to arrive at Grenoble 
until the 30th, Truscott decided that 
his American units would have to 
make the drive alone. Speed was es- 
sential. Accordingly, he ordered 
Eagles' 45th Division to seize Bourg- 
en-Bresse, lying northeast of Lyon, as 
soon as possible, while Dahlquist's 
36th Division, advancing directly 
north along the east bank of the 
Rhone, moved against Valence, 
Vienne, and finally Lyon. O'Daniel's 
3d Division would follow the 45th, 
ready to reinforce either leading divi- 
sion if necessary. Truscott hoped that 
the dual drive would make the ad- 
vance more flexible, would enable VI 
Corps units to sidestep German rear- 
guard defenses along the Rhone, and 
would ultimately offer him another 
opportunity to trap the retreating 
enemy if the Bourg-en-Bresse area 
could be taken early enough. 

On 29 August, as the Nineteenth 
Army 's survivors trundled past Vienne, 
15 miles south of Lyon, leading ele- 
ments of the 45th Division bypassed 
the retreating Germans on the east 
and came abreast of the city. Encoun- 
tering negligible resistance, the 45th 
Division forces captured two intact 
bridges over the Rhone 15 to 20 



miles east of Lyon, and on the follow- 
ing days, 30 and 31 August, advanced 
15 miles farther north to the town of 
Meximieux and then another 15 miles 



to P ont d'Ain on the Ain River {Map 



10)\ Thus far, there had been no sign 
of the 11th Panzer Division or any 
other German security forces. 

As Eagles struggled to bring the 
bulk of his division up to the Mexi- 
mieux area, the rest of the VI Corps 
followed as rapidly as possible. By 31 
August the 36th Infantry Division, 
closely followed by two regiments of 
O'Daniel's 3d, had also avoided the 
German rear-guard defenses by using 
roads east of the Rhone valley and 
was only about thirty miles from 
Lyon. In addition, the 3d Algerian Di- 
vision started north from Grenoble 
on the 31st, following in the wake of 
the 45th Division and reporting that 
there were no Germans on the VI 
Corps' eastern flank. On 1 September 
the Allied concentration against Lyon 
continued, but early in the day the 
commanders of the leading American 
divisions began to sense the first 
German reactions to their rapid pur- 
suit. At Dahlquist's command post, 
FFI reports indicated that the Ger- 
mans were constructing heavy rear- 
guard defenses just south of Lyon; 
meanwhile at Eagles' headquarters 
subordinate commands notified the 
45th Division staff that its outposts in 
the Meximieux-Pont d'Ain area were 
being probed by German armor. Ob- 
viously the Germans were more sensi- 
tive to threats to their rear or flanks 
than they had been before the battle 
of Montelimar. 

Wiese had hoped that the 11th 
Panzer Division would have secured or 
destroyed all the Rhone and Ain river 




MAP 10 



PURSUIT TO THE NORTH 



177 



bridges east of Lyon before the 
Americans could reach the area. This 
done, the task of covering the with- 
drawal of his two corps north to 
Dijon would have been fairly easy, 
with the panzer units slowly retiring 
directly to the northeast toward the 
Belfort Gap. But the early arrival of 
the 45th Division (or the late arrival 
of the 11th Panzers) complicated these 
designs. To protect his eastern flank, 
Wiese now ordered General von Wie- 
tersheim, the panzer division com- 
mander, to make a major effort to 
dislodge the American forces from 
the Meximieux area and to strengthen 
German outposts at Bourg, about fif- 
teen miles above Pont d'Ain. His ac- 
tions would have to be closely coordi- 
nated with Group von Schwerin, com- 
posed of remnants of the 189th Divi- 
sion and the 71st Luftwaffe Training 
Regiment, which had been charged 
with defending the southern and east- 
ern approaches to Lyon itself. 

Meanwhile, units of the 45th Divi- 
sion began assembling north of Mexi- 
mieux on 1 September in preparation 
for a major attack on the 2d, and the 
117th Cavalry Squadron moved out 
to secure their right flank. The result 
was a series of disorganized engage- 
ments between elements of the 11th 
Panzers and 45th Infantry Division that 
lasted throughout the day. At Mexi- 
mieux, a strong German infantry-tank 
force bypassed the American troops 
advancing north — probably by acci- 
dent — and penetrated to the center of 
town. There, a desperate defense by 
two reserve companies of the 179th 
Infantry and the regimental headquar- 
ters, including clerks and kitchen per- 
sonnel, managed to repulse the per- 
sistent German attackers several 



times, using bazooka, tank destroyer, 
and artillery fire against the enemy 
armor. Fighting continued in the 
town until dusk, when units of the 
179th and 157th Infantry began re- 
turning to Meximieux from the north. 
With their withdrawal routes threat- 
ened, the German attackers finally 
broke off the action, but 45th Divi- 
sion troops were unable to clear the 
area completely until 0350 on the fol- 
lowing morning. 

As counted by the 179th Infantry, 
German casualties during the Mexi- 
mieux affair totaled 85 men killed and 
41 captured. In addition, 45th Divi- 
sion units destroyed 8 medium and 4 
light tanks, 3 self-propelled guns, and 
7 other vehicles. The 11th Panzer Divi- 
sion, with more enthusiasm than truth, 
reported to the Nineteenth Army that it 
had destroyed an entire American 
regiment. Actually, casualties of the 
179th Infantry and supporting units 
numbered 3 men killed, 27 wounded, 
and 185 missing and probably cap- 
tured. Materiel losses included 2 tank 
destroyers, 2 armored cars, 1 half- 
track, and 2 jeeps destroyed with 
about 20 other vehicles damaged. 
The most the German effort accom- 
plished was to disrupt preparations by 
the 179th Infantry to participate in 
the 45th Division's attack on 2 Sep- 
tember. This, however, was von Wie- 
tersheim's primary mission. Neverthe- 
less, by the end of the day the threat 
to Lyon had grown even greater as 
both the 3d and 36th Divisions as 
well as the French forces moving up 
west of the Rhone all arrived within 
striking distance (some five to ten 
miles) of Lyon. 

Despite the growing Allied threat to 
Lyon, Wiese felt more confident by 



178 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



the evening of the 1st. On the follow- 
ing day, 2 September, he expected 
that the bulk of the Nineteenth Army 
would be well north of the city 
screened in the south and east by the 
11th Panzer Division, now reinforced by 
a regiment of the 338th Division. Yet 
Truscott still had hopes of catching 
Wiese's forces off-guard. With Patch's 
consent, he decided to allow the 
French the honor of formally occupy- 
ing Lyon, while he had the 36th Divi- 
sion sidestep past the eastern edge of 
the city. To the northeast, he still ex- 
pected the 45th Division to launch a 
major attack toward Bourg on 2 Sep- 
tember, while the 117th Cavalry 
Squadron probed east and west of the 
town. With luck, he still might be able 
to penetrate the German flank de- 
fenses at some point and strike at 
their northward withdrawal columns. 

This time the American units found 
the German security forces more solid 
and better organized. Between 2 and 
3 September the 45th Division's 
157th and 180th regiments encoun- 
tered strong German resistance south 
and east of Bourg-en-Bresse, and 
were unable to pierce the German 
flank defenses there. Meanwhile, seek- 
ing less difficult routes through the 
German lines, Truscott had the 117th 
Cavalry Squadron send out a series of 
reconnaissance patrols from the Mexi- 
mieux area toward Macon, about 
thirty miles north of Lyon and fifteen 
miles west of Bourg. Although 
making little progress in the west, the 
squadron was able to slip one of its 
scout troops north through the 
German defensive lines and past 
Bourg without encountering any re- 
sistance. At 1730 that evening, B 
Troop entered the small town of 



Marboz located on a secondary road, 
ten miles north of Bourg. The cavalry 
force lost Marboz briefly to a small 
German counterattack, but reentered 
the town at dusk to stay the night. 

Truscott immediately saw the tiny 
troop, with only armored cars and 
light trucks, as a lever that might un- 
hinge the entire German flank securi- 
ty force. But speed was essential. 
Before the situation could be com- 
pletely clarified, he directed the caval- 
ry unit to push westward seven miles 
from Marboz and occupy Montrevel 
on Route N-75, the main highway 
northwest from Bourg. Since the new 
objective lay squarely on the 11th 
Panzer Division's main supply route, 
the isolated cavalrymen expected 
trouble. One platoon of Troop B 
even managed to work its way into 
the eastern edge of Montrevel that 
night, but was abruptly thrown out by 
the German garrison and forced to 
retire to Marboz. 

Meanwhile, the 1 1 7th Cavalry com- 
mander, Lt. Col. Charles J. Hodge, 
tried to concentrate the rest of his 
widely scattered forces in the Marboz 
area as quickly as possible. Troop A 
reached the town during the night 
along with a forward squadron com- 
mand group, which immediately 
began planning for a second attempt 
at Montrevel early on the 3d. Much, 
however, still depended on the arrival 
of more reinforcements, especially the 
squadron's Troop C, Troop E (as- 
sault guns), and Company F (light 
tanks). 4 But when these forces, which 



4 Troops A, B, and C consisted mainly of six- 
wheeled armored cars (twelve each) and quarter-ton 
"jeeps" (forty-five each); Troop E of M8 self-pro- 
pelled guns (modified light tanks with 75-mm. how- 



PURSUIT TO THE NORTH 



179 



had been scouting the area east of 
Bourg, failed to show, . the squadron 
commander decided to attack anyway 
with only his two reconnaissance 
troops. 

On 3 September Troop B started 
into Montrevel shortly after dawn fol- 
lowed quickly by Troop A. After scat- 
tering about 300 German service 
troops, the small force secured the 
town by 0930, but lacked the strength 
to occupy the entire area. Looking 
over the objective in daylight for the 
first time, the cavalrymen found that 
Montrevel stood on a low ridge sur- 
rounded by open farmland with few 
defensive possibilities; the two troops 
lacked the manpower even to occupy 
the entire town. But expecting a vio- 
lent reaction from the German ar- 
mored unit — the tiger on whose tail 
they now sat — the two troops tried to 
prepare a creditable defense of the 
eastern section of Montrevel as best 
they could. 

Upon learning of the threat to his 
main route of supply and withdrawal, 
von Wietersheim immediately pulled 
his 11th Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion 
out of Bourg, reinforced it with a bat- 
tery of self-propelled artillery, six 
medium tanks, and an engineer com- 
pany, and dispatched the task force 
northwest to clear Montrevel. The 
German force reached Montrevel at 
1100 and began a fight that lasted 
well into the afternoon. The Ameri- 
cans called for reinforcements, while 
holding on as best they could and 
mounting counterattacks to keep the 
Germans off balance. But the light ar- 
mored vehicles of the cavalry were 



itzers); and Company F of light tanks with 37-mm. 
cannons. 



not intended for heavy combat, and 
the contest was uneven; by 1330 the 
American force was surrounded and 
in disarray. The self-propelled guns 
of Troop E, a mile or so to the west, 
could provide little support because 
of the confused nature of the fighting, 
and the arrival of Troop C and Com- 
pany F was delayed by traffic prob- 
lems as the units tried to backtrack 
through the 45th Division's area of 
operation. 

At 1430, with the Germans com- 
pletely encircling the town, Company 
F attacked from the east and Troops 
A and B tried to break out. The re- 
sults were disappointing. German ar- 
tillery and tank fire easily destroyed 
or drove off the American light tanks, 
and only a few troopers within Mon- 
trevel managed to escape. By 1630 
the American situation in the town 
had become hopeless. 5 The number 
of wounded made other breakout at- 
tempts impracticable, and the ammu- 
nition of the cavalry force had just 
about run out. Shortly thereafter, all 
of the troopers who were left in the 
town surrendered. Half an hour later 
Troop C and the 2d Battalion of the 
179th Infantry began reaching the 
scene, but were too late to help. The 
remaining American forces in the area 
retired to Marboz for the night, leav- 
ing the German panzer division with 
its escape route intact. 

When the cavalry squadron could 
take a count, it found that Troop A 



5 The Congressional Medal of Honor was awarded 
to 2d Lt. Daniel W. Lee, commanding Headquarters 
Platoon, Troop A, 117th Cavalry Squadron, for 
heroic action, despite severe wounds, at Montrevel. 
(The date of the action was mistakenly cited as 2 
September since almost all of the fighting actually 
took place on the 3d.) 



180 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



had lost only 12 men, but only 8 sol- 
diers from Troop B could be found. 
In addition, Troop B and one platoon 
of Troop A had lost all their vehi- 
cles — 20 jeeps and 15 armored cars — 
while Company F had 2 light tanks 
destroyed and 3 damaged. The Ger- 
mans captured 126 men, including 31 
wounded, while 5 troopers had been 
killed during the fight. About 10 of 
those captured escaped during the 
next few days, and the Germans left 
behind 12 of the most seriously 
wounded when they evacuated Mon- 
trevel. German personnel losses are 
unknown, but the cavalry force ac- 
counted for at least 1 German tank, 2 
armored cars, and 4 other vehicles. 

Truscott later determined that the 
117th Cavalry troopers at Montrevel 
had been careless and were caught 
napping by elements of the 11th 
Panzer Division withdrawing from 
Bourg. However, given German and 
American strength and dispositions in 
the area, it is hard to escape the con- 
clusion that Truscott simply assigned 
missions to the 117th Cavalry Squad- 
ron that were beyond its capabilities. 6 
If Truscott expected more of the re- 
connaissance unit, then he ought to 
have reinforced it with tanks and tank 
destroyers. But Truscott and his staff 
may have underestimated the recu- 
perative powers of the 11th Panzer Di- 
vision and its strength in the Bourg 
area. As later noted by von Wieter- 
sheim, the 11th often went into action 
with about 50 to 60 percent of its 
available strength, in order to avoid 



6 See Truscott, Command Missions, p. 439; and the 
account in the squadron commander's draft auto- 
biography, pp. 133-35, Charles J. Hodge Papers, 
MHI. 



heavy losses from Allied air and artil- 
lery if the tactical units were caught 
out in the open. 7 This policy also 
made it easier to reconstitute dam- 
aged units fairly quickly, even after 
they had been in heavy action as at 
Montelimar, and may explain the divi- 
sion's seemingly great staying power 
on the battlefield. Nevertheless, at 
both Montrevel and Meximieux as 
elsewhere, von Wietersheim's actions 
were rarely decisive, even at the small 
unit level; and Truscott's persistence 
in using every opportunity that pre- 
sented itself to turn his opponent's 
flank and strike at his rear was to 
slowly wear the 11th and its sister in- 
fantry divisions down to the bone. 

While his forces were reoccupying 
Montrevel, von Wietersheim learned 
that the bulk of the Nineteenth Army 
had escaped north up the Saone 
valley past Macon and that only the 
IV Luftwaffe Field Corps rear guard re- 
mained in the area. His primary mis- 
sion, protecting the retreating army's 
flank, had thus been accomplished, 
and the panzer division commander 
now began planning his own escape. 
Faced with the certainty that the VI 
Corps would renew its attacks on 4 
September, he ordered his armored 
elements to vacate their delaying po- 
sitions in the Meximieux-Bourg-Mon- 
trevel area on the night of 3-4 Sep- 
tember. But rather than heading 
north with the rest of Wiese's forces, 
von Wietersheim turned the 11th 
Panzer Division to the northeast, plan- 
ning to pull it back along the ap- 
proaches to the Belfort Gap. 

On the morning of 4 September, 



7 "llth Panzer Division Rpt of MG von Wieter- 
sheim, 4 June 46," John E. Dahlquist Papers, MHI. 



PURSUIT TO THE NORTH 



181 




157th Infantry, 45th Division, 

passes through Bourg, September 1944. 

Truscott's forces found that their foes 
had once again escaped. Units of the 
45th Division occupied Bourg-en- 
Bresse, while those of the 36th Divi- 
sion moved into Macon. There was 
no opposition. In the west, French 
units of the 1st Infantry Division, 
after overcoming scattered German 
roadblocks and their own logistical 
problems, had entered Lyon earlier, 
on the 3d, and also found the Ger- 
mans long gone. However, bypassing 
the city on the west, CC Kientz of du 
Vigier's 1st Armored Division, rein- 
forced with the 2d Algerian Spahis, 
achieved a signal success by trapping 
and destroying the IV Luftwaffe Field 
Corps' rear guard twenty miles north 



of Lyon, taking nearly 2,000 prison- 
ers. Meanwhile, on the other side of 
Patch's spearhead, the French 3d Al- 
gerian Division, out of Grenoble and 
now abreast of the leading VI Corps 
units, probed the Jura Alps toward 
the Swiss border, finding nothing but 
assorted FFI units. Behind the Algeri- 
ans, O'Daniel's 3d Division finally 
rumbled up to the front lines, eager 
to get on with the drive north and 
with what many American GIs in the 
rear had begun to call "the cham- 
pagne campaign." 

A Change in Plans 

Patch's original plans of 28 August 
had called for VI Corps to continue 
its drive directly north, moving up the 
Saone valley to Dijon in order to join 
Patton's eastward-moving Third 
Army. Simultaneously, de Lattre's 
forces on Truscott's right were to 
begin a concentrated thrust to the 
northeast, aiming for the Belfort Gap 
and the Rhine. 8 However, events had 
continued to move faster than many 
Allied planners predicted, and Trus- 
cott now believed the earlier plans 
were impractical. On 2 September, in 
view of the rapid German withdrawal 
to Dijon and the still-scattered de- 
ployment of the French divisions, he 
proposed several major revisions to 
these instructions. Pointing out that 



8 This section is based on the following sources: 
Seventh Army Rpt, I, 258-59; Truscott, Command Mis- 
sions, pp. 434-40; de Lattre, History, pp. ,133-36; 
Seventh Army Diary, 3-5 Sep 44; Seventh Army Di- 
rective (no number), 3 Sep 44; VI Corps Fid Msg, 
031000 Sep 44; G-3, Army B, Note Concernant le 
Developement des Operations apres la Prise de 
Lyon, 2 Sep 44; G-3, Army B, SO 31-A, 2 Sep 44; 
Army B, Genl Opnl Order 32, 3 Sep 44; Army B, 
SO 33, 4 Sep 44. 



182 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



de Lattre would need at least a week 
to concentrate his- forces in the 
Bourg-en-Bresse area for the drive on 
Belfort, he suggested that his VI 
Corps undertake the mission instead. 
His three mobile infantry divisions 
were already massed east of Lyon and 
could begin to move northeast toward 
the Belfort Gap within a day or two. 
In front of them, he felt, were only 
scattered elements of the 11th Panzer 
Division, also moving northeast, but 
with very little armor left. More im- 
portant, a rapid thrust to the north- 
east, taking the shortest route to the 
Vosges-Belfort Gap area, would give 
the Seventh Army yet another chance 
to trap the Nineteenth Army, catching 
the Germans between Dijon and the 
Vosges as they ultimately tried to 
withdraw eastward. The French, Trus- 
cott added, were already well north of 
Lyon and were therefore in a better 
position to pursue the bulk of the re- 
treating German forces and then 
swing east through the Vosges passes 
to Strasbourg. 

Patch formally agreed to Truscott's 
proposals early on the morning of 3 
September, but de Lattre was angry 
and objected strenuously to the 
changes. In part, his irritation 
stemmed from his belief that the two 
principal American commanders, 
Patch and Truscott, were making 
major decisions without consulting 
him or his staff. The fact that the 
French army would soon deploy more 
than twice as many divisions as the 
Americans on the battlefield lent 
weight to his position that the French 
divisions, as agreed upon, should be 
united on the Seventh Army's right 
and, after joining with Eisenhower's 
forces, become an independent army. 



If the French forces remained split, 
obviously this would be impossible. 

De Lattre admitted that it would 
take several days to transfer the two 
French divisions, the 1st Armored 
and 1st Infantry, to the area east of 
Lyon, and probably a few more to 
bring up one or two additional infan- 
try divisions from southern France. 
But he also pointed out that the 3d 
Algerian Division, on VI Corps' right, 
had already sent strong armored re- 
connaissance elements of its own fifty 
miles east of Bourg to scout out the 
routes to Belfort; moreover* the divi- 
sion planned to send an infantry regi- 
ment reinforced with a tank destroyer 
battalion toward the Belfort Gap on 
the following day. Starting even more 
forces east at this point was danger- 
ous, he felt; and de Lattre questioned 
Truscott's ability to support a corps- 
sized drive logistically. 

In the end de Lattre compromised. 
On the afternoon of 3 September the 
French commander unilaterally an- 
nounced the formation of two French 
corps-level commands — the I Corps 
under Lt. Gen. Emile Bethouart and 
the II Corps under General de Mon- 
sabert. 9 De Monsabert's II Corps was 
to control the French 1st Armored 
and 1st Infantry Divisions west of the 
Rhone and Saone, pushing north 
toward Dijon; Bethouart's I Corps 
was to operate to the right of VI 
Corps with the 3d Algerian and 9th 



9 Headquarters, French II Corps, actually became 
operational on 1 September, with de Monsabert, 
then commander of the 3d Algerian Division, taking 
over on the 2d. Before 1 September French forces 
west of the Rhone had operated as a provisional 
groupemmt under General du Vigier, commander of 
the 1st Armored Division. For the present, de 
Lattre's staff continued to call itself simply Army B. 



PURSUIT TO THE NORTH 



183 



Colonial Divisions and later the 2d 
Moroccan Division. In compliance 
with the revised Truscott-inspired 
plans, the French II Corps was to 
push north toward Dijon and then 
swing east toward Strasbourg; the 
French I Corps was to push east and 
northeast toward Belfort, presumably 
supporting Truscott's drive northeast. 
The 2d Moroccan Division would take 
over the northern sector of the 
Franco-Italian Alpine front and be re- 
placed by the 4th Moroccan Mountain 
Division in early October (while the 
American 1st Airborne Task Force 
and the 1st Special Service Force con- 
tinued to secure the southern sector). 
His forces thus remained split, but de 
Lattre had asserted himself as at least 
a provisional army-level commander 
of two French corps, easing the even- 
tual establishment of a French army 
command, the First French Army, 
sometime in the near future. 

Not wishing to make an issue of the 
matter, Patch accepted de Lattre's 
amendments to his plans and issued 
supplemental orders on 4 September. 
Bethouart's II Corps was to advance 
northeast toward the Belfort Gap on 
an axis that would take it south of 
Belfort city, and Truscott's VI Corps 
was to aim for the northern shoulder 
of the gap. Truscott, although at first 
fearing that this solution would re- 
strict his freedom of movement, 
agreed to the compromise and set to 
work hammering out the details of 
the operations with both his own and 
Bethouart's new staff. 

Creation of the Dijon Salient 

On 3 September, as the Seventh 
Army leaders adjusted their plans, 



Hitler personally reminded Blaskowitz 
of Army Group G's primary responsibil- 
ities: establishing a common front 
with Army Group B; defending the ap- 
proaches to the Belfort Gap; and 
holding the salient around Dijon. 
This last was obviously the most diffi- 
cult task, but the German political 
leader still had visions of launching 
an armored counterattack from an as- 
sembly area west of the Vosges. 
Blaskowitz, aware of the German 
Army's limited capabilities in the 
west, was more concerned with hold- 
ing on to the Dijon area until the re- 
mainder of his forces from the Atlan- 
tic coast could escape. However, he 
also knew that his pursuers from the 
south would not give him much time 
to pause and regroup. Taking all 
these factors into consideration, he 
completed plans to accomplish his di- 
verse missions by 4 September. 10 

To protect his southern flank, 
Blaskowitz decided to establish delay- 
ing positions along and just south of 
the Doubs River, a small watercourse 
flowing generally west and southwest 
from the Montbeliard area through 
the small city of Besancon and joining 
the Saone River about thirty miles 
south of Dijon. The 11th Panzer Divi- 
sion, still operating under the Nine- 
teenth Army's direct control, was to 
defend the eastern section of the new 
line with a thirty-mile front from 
Mouchard to the Swiss border. From 
Mouchard the LXXXV Corps' 338th 



10 For additional information on German activi- 
ties, see also Cole, The Lorraine Campaign, chs. 4 and 
5; Detmar Finke, "Nineteenth Army, 4-15 Septem- 
ber 1944," CMH MS R-161; Dean H. Krasomil, 
"German Operations in Southern France," ch. 6, 
"The Dijon Salient, 1-15 September 1944," CMH 
MS R-51. 



184 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



and 198th Infantry Divisions were to 
extend the line westward to the town 
of Dole on the Doubs River, thirty 
miles west of Besancon, and from 
Dole twenty miles farther west along 
the Doubs to the Saone. Backstop- 
ping the LXXXV Corps was a second 
line along the Doubs east of Dole, 
centering on Besancon and consisting 
of various ad hoc combat formations 
under Corps Dehner, which was a provi- 
sional headquarters under General 
Ernst Dehner, who had previously 
commanded the administrative and 
security organization Army Area South- 
ern France. The main task of all these 
forces was to guard the approaches to 
Belfort. 

Blaskowitz intended to hold the 
Dijon salient with three corps: the IV 
Luftwaffe Field Corps in the south; the 
LXIV Corps in the west, if it ever ar- 
rived intact from the Atlantic coast; 
and the LXVI Corps, which OB West 
had assigned to Army Group G on 27 
August, in the north. At the time the 
IV Luftwaffe Field Corps had only the 
716th Division and the remnants of 
the 189th Division; the forces that 
might be available to the other two 
corps were uncertain. Nevertheless, 
Blaskowitz thought it possible to hold 
for at least three or four days a loose 
cordon of strongpoints from Givry in 
the south, northwest to Autun, then 
north past Dijon to Chatillon-sur- 
Seine, and back east to Langres. The 
western section would be no more 
than an outpost or screening line 
through which retreating LXIV Corps 
elements could pass on their way to 
Dijon. The missing corps had in- 
curred few losses on its way across 
central France, delayed only by FFI 
harassment, MAAF air attacks on 



march columns and bridges, and its 
own lack of transportation. By the 
time it arrived, Blaskowitz expected 
that he would be forced to fall back 
to the Saone and even farther east, 
depending on how much pressure the 
Allies brought to bear on his flanks. 

At the time, elements of the LXIV 
Corps were already beginning to strag- 
gle into Dijon. The corps had begun 
its withdrawal with about 82,500 
troops, of whom some 32,500 were 
members of ground combat units; the 
remainder belonged to various units 
from all branches and services as- 
signed or attached to the Atlantic 
coast garrisons. Leading elements of 
the LXIV Corps' vanguard, the weak 
159th Infantry Division, reached the 
Saone River on 4 September; the 16th 
Infantry Division, which lacked three of 
its nine organic infantry battalions, 
entered the salient on the following 
day. The 360th Cossack Cavalry Regi- 
ment (horse cavalry) and the 950th 
Indian Regiment (infantry) arrived 
about the same time, as did the 602d 
and 608th Mobile Battalions (light, mo- 
torized infantry). These organizations 
represented almost all of the "regu- 
lar" combat strength for which the 
LXIV Corps had been able to find any 
transportation. Another 50,000 troops 
were still on the way, including rear 
elements, afoot, of the 16th and 159th 
Divisions; army, air force, and navy 
supply and administrative units; and a 
number of security, or police, battal- 
ions and regiments armed as auxiliary 
infantry. Some units and equipment 
were entrained but unable to move 
due to Allied air attacks on rail 
bridges and switching sites. The LXIV 
headquarters, which established a 
command post at Dijon on the 4th, 



PURSUIT TO THE NORTH 



185 



felt that the chances of bringing many 
of these troops into the salient were 
slim. 11 

Army Group G's problems were all 
intensified by the increasingly ramp- 
ant disorganization and depletion of 
units under its control, especially 
those now being positioned to defend 
the salient. All of these forces had 
suffered heavily from the almost inev- 
itable straggling inherent in retro- 
grade movements, and combat casual- 
ties had only increased the confusion. 
The result was a defensive order of 
battle so complex that its effective- 
ness was extremely doubtful. For ex- 
ample, north of Dijon, the LXVI Corps 
held the northern edge of the salient 
was an assortment of forces that 
Blaskowitz had been able to scrape 
together: the tankless Group Rauch of 
the 21st Panzer Division; the 608th 
Mobile Battalion and the bulk of the 
16th Division just arriving from the At- 
lantic coast; Group Ottenbacher, a provi- 
sional brigade composed mainly of 
police and security units; and a host 
of smaller combat, quasi-combat, and 
service units of all types. The mixed 
force did little to allay Blaskowitz's 
fear of an armored attack led by 
Patton toward Nancy on the boundary 
between Army Groups G and B. 

In the west, screening the Givry- 
Chatillon outpost line, the LXIV Corps 
boasted Group Browdowski, consisting 
of the 615th Ost Battalion, the 4th Bat- 
talion of the 200th Security Brigade, a 
heavy battery of the 157th Antiaircraft 
Battalion, a provisional machine-gun 
platoon, and little more. Defending 



11 See Krasomil, "German Operations in Southern 
France," ch. 5, "The Withdrawal of the LXIV Corps 
(18 August-4 September 1944)," CMH MS R-47. 



the southern edge of the salient, the 
IV Luftwaffe Field Corps had two major 
commands, the 189th Division and 
Group Taeglichsbeck. The remnant 
189th, temporarily renamed Group von 
Schwerin, had two weak infantry battal- 
ions, a four-piece artillery "battalion," 
and some miscellaneous attachments, 
altogether totaling less than 1,200 
combat effectives. Group Taeglichsbeck 
included the 602d Mobile Battalion, the 
3d Battalion of the 198th Security Regi- 
ment, an engineer company from the 
same unit, three batteries of the 990th 
Artillery Battalion, and an antitank com- 
pany from the 16th Division. 

To the southeast, Blaskowitz re- 
garded the threat posed by Patch's 
aggressive Seventh Army as equally 
worrisome, and the defenses in front 
of the Belfort Gap as little better than 
those outposting the salient. In 
answer to Wiese's pleas for reinforce- 
ments there, he dispatched the 159th 
Division to Corps Dehner, which at the 
time had only a few police and securi- 
ty units, a couple of undependable Ost 
battalions, and a few pieces of light 
artillery. But to the south and east, 
the worn-out 11th Panzers and the 
338th and 198th Infantry Divisions 
could not have been in much better 
shape. In fact the composition of the 
Nineteenth Army's various gruppen 
changed from day to day as more ele- 
ments of the LXIV Corps came into the 
Dijon salient and others arrived from 
the immediate army rear. Wiese, for 
example, tried to beef up the 189th 
Division in the south by adding to it 
the 726th Grenadiers of the 716th Divi- 
sion and the 2d Battalion of the 5th Cos- 
sack Regiment. Finally Hitler himself 
gave Blaskowitz permission to reorga- 
nize his forces more or less as he saw 



186 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



fit, bringing up to strength all of Army 
Group G's regular formations by infus- 
ing them with "suitable" personnel 
from all branches of the armed ser- 
vices within the army group's area of 
operation. Only certain specialists and 
technicians were excepted. The result 
was a slow but steady rise in the 
paper strength of the German divi- 
sions, but the effectiveness of the 
filled-in units remained to be seen. 
Without more training, Blaskowitz be- 
lieved that units composed of such 
fillers had little offensive capability 
and could only be expected to defend 
in place for about two or three days. 
The German defenders would have to 
continue relying more on Allied 
supply problems than on their own 
military strength to keep the attackers 
at bay. 

The Seventh Army Attacks 

Given the weak German defenses, 
the Seventh Army's advance north- 
ward continued almost at will be- 
tween 4 and 8 September. In the 
west, the French II Corps' 1st Ar- 
mored Division slammed into the 
ragged line that the IV Luftwaffe Field 
Corps was trying to improvise be tween 



Givry and Chalons-sur-Saone [(Map 
11)\ It cleared both towns by the 5th 
and continued northward another ten 
to fifteen miles before halting on the 
6th to await fuel supplies. During the 
night of 6-7 September responsibility 
for defending the sector passed from 
the IV Luftwaffe to the LXIV Corps. 
The change made no difference to 
the French, however, who continued 
pushing north on the 7th, nearing 
Beaune and rounding up hundreds of 
stragglers from the German 16th and 



159th Infantry Divisions who were still 
trying to make their way to Dijon. In 
light of the rapid French advance, 
Wiese had already decided to begin 
abandoning the salient, and on that 
day ordered the LXIV Corps to pull its 
forces back to an area within a ten- 
mile radius of Dijon. Thus while CC 
Sudre occupied Baume unopposed on 
8 September, the other units of the 
French II Corps were busy capturing 
the growing number of German 
forces unable to reach safety. These 
included six railroad trains — one of 
them armored — full of LXIV Corps 
troops, vehicles, guns, and supplies, 
and some 3,000 troops from Group 
Bauer, another ad hoc march group 
from the Atlantic. 12 Meanwhile, Wiese 
had become increasingly concerned 
over the widening gap between the 
LXIV Corps and the rest of the Nine- 
teenth Army, as Allied forces east of the 
Saone River began their drive on the 
Belfort Gap-Vosges area. 

After regrouping and resupplying 
its forces on 3 September, VI Corps 
had begun its drive northeast on the 
4 th, heading in the general direction 
of Besancon on the Doubs River 
about fifty miles away. Initially 
O'Daniel's 3d Division led the attack 
with Dahlquist's 36th Division on the 
left and Eagles' 45th in the rear. On 
the corps' right, or eastern, flank, the 
3d Algerian Division, the only French 
I Corps unit to have moved up to the 



12 Group Bauer started out of southwestern France 
as part of the larger Group Elster, which had original- 
ly numbered around 30,000 troops. About two- 
thirds of Group Bauer, mainly administrative and ser- 
vice personnel, escaped past Dijon, but the 19,000- 
20,000 troops of Group Elster's main body surren- 
dered to the U.S. Ninth Army far west of Autun on 
16 September. 




MAP II 



188 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



Lyon area, kept abreast of the Ameri- 
can units. The rapid Allied advance 
gave Wiese no time to establish any 
kind of defensive line forward of the 
Doubs River, and the LXXXV Corps 
had to struggle to construct even a 
thin defensive screen there. 

Approaching Besancon on the 
morning of the 5th, lead elements of 
the 3d Division began probing 
German defenses and seeking suitable 
water crossings east and west of the 
town. Corps Dehner, responsible for de- 
fending the Besancon area, still had 
little more than a few security units 
under its control, but Wiese had rein- 
forced it with a battalion-sized task 
force, including a company of tanks, 
from the 11th Panzer Division and was 
currently hurrying the 159th Infantry 
Division into the sector from Dijon. 13 
Wiese intended to make a stand here, 
if only to give the rest of his forces 
more time to move into their defen- 
sive sectors. However, on the 5th the 
supporting units of the 11th Panzer Di- 
vision were about to depart the area, 
leaving Besancon defended by a few 
88-mm. guns and crews from an anti- 
aircraft unit, some engineers, a naval 
artillery unit, one security battalion, 
and elements of two reconnaissance 
battalions. 

As the 3d Division brought up its 
strung-out forces for a major effort 
against Besancon on 6 September, 
Truscott considered having the 3d 
and 45th Divisions bypass the town 
on the east and allowing units of the 
117th Cavalry and the 3d Division to 



13 Army Group G had reassigned the 159th Division, 
with five infantry battalions, from the LXIV Corps to 
the Nineteenth Army on the evening of 5 September, 
after it had arrived in the Dijon area from the Atlan- 
tic coast. 



screen any German forces there. 
Later on the 5th, after 3d Division 
troops had discovered an intact 
bridge west of the town, he discussed 
the possibility of outflanking Besan- 
con from the opposite side. However, 
trouble late in the day farther east 
caused him to abandon the entire 
idea of bypassing the German de- 
fenses. At Baume-les-Dames, eighteen 
miles east of Besancon, the 3d Algeri- 
an Division's 4th Tunisian Tirailleurs 
had rushed over the Doubs using a 
damaged bridge, but were then se- 
verely mauled in a German counterat- 
tack by the 11th Panzer Division. With 
its other elements scattered south and 
southeast of Baume, the French re- 
quested immediate American assist- 
ance. 

Meeting with Bethouart and the 
commander of the 3d Algerian Divi- 
sion on the morning of the 6th, Trus- 
cott decided that it was too risky to 
simply bypass the German strong- 
points and that they would have to be 
taken by force. To accomplish this he 
proposed that his 3d Division seize 
Besancon, the 45th Division move 
against Baume, and the 3d Algerian — 
its front somewhat narrowed — launch 
a concentrated thrust toward Montbe- 
liard. 

Meanwhile, during the night of 5-6 
September, Wiese had again been 
busy reorganizing his defenses. First, 
he placed the LXXXV Corps headquar- 
ters, which had been controlling the 
sector west of Corps Dehner, in charge 
of the Belfort Gap defenses, leapfrog- 
ging it to the east and replacing it 
with the IV Luftwaffe Field Corps from 
the southern border of his now col- 
lapsing salient. Second, he moved all 
11th Panzer Division elements out of 




30th Infantry, 3d Division, Crosses Doubs River at Besancon, September 1944. 



the Besancon-Baume region, shifting 
them well east of the winding Doubs 
and onto the most direct approaches 
to the Belfort Gap. At the same time, 
he attempted to fortify Corps Dehner's 
weak defenses with the arriving 159th 
Division. 

Along the Doubs River these shifts 
did the Germans little good. O'Daniel 
managed to move his 3d Division 
troops across the Doubs and occupy 
the wooded hills around Besancon, 
thereby surrounding the town before 
the German defenders could react ef- 
fectively. Despite a garrison that now 
totaled about 4,200, the strongpoint 
fell late on 8 September after about 
two days of desultory fighting, during 
which over half the defending troops 
were captured or made casualties. 



Subsequently Wiese had to withdraw 
what remained of the 159th Division 
for a complete overhaul. 

West of Besancon, Dahlquist's 36th 
Division reached the Doubs River line 
on the 6th, pushed aside the weak 
338th Division elements defending the 
area, and, while advancing northeast 
of the Doubs on 8 September, 
bumped into the IV Luftwaffe Corps' 
198th Division as it was attempting to 
move across the rear of the German 
front to launch a counterattack 
against Besancon. A day-long battle 
between the two units around St. Vit, 
ten miles west of Besancon, saw the 
German forces routed, convincing 
Wiese that another general withdraw- 
al was in order. 

East of Besancon, Allied operations 



190 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 




Tanks of 45th Division Advance in Vicinity of Baume-les-Dames, September 1944. 



proceeded more slowly. Lack of 
strength in the forward areas because 
of transportation and supply prob- 
lems were the major culprits, and 
there was little that Patch or Truscott 
could do to solve these difficulties 
quickly. On 7 September the 45th Di- 
vision's 180th regiment crossed the 
Doubs southwest of Baume with no 
opposition, forcing 11th Panzer Divi- 
sion elements to evacuate the town on 
the evening of the 8 th to avoid encir- 
clement. To the southeast, the 3d Al- 
gerian Division made some progress 
toward Montbeliard, but was firmly 
halted eleven miles short of the city 
by the bulk of the 11th Panzer Division, 
which had finally been infused with 
some new equipment. By then it was 
also evident that the French could not 



really pose a strong threat to Belfort 
until Bethouart's I Corps could bring 
more of its divisions up to the front 
line. For now, a successful drive on 
Belfort would depend entirely on 
Truscott's VI Corps. 

To the Belfort Gap 

By the evening of 8 September the 
Nineteenth Army had begun another 
major withdrawal along with the rest 
of Army Group G's forces. The Seventh 
Army's advances through St. Vit, Be- 
sancon, and Baume in the south made 
a continued stand along the Doubs 
River pointless; and, in the west, the 
French I Corps drive on Dijon was 
rapidly puncturing the German sa- 
lient. Moreover, OKW had changed 



PURSUIT TO THE NORTH 



191 



the proposed counterattack assembly 
area from the vicinity of Dijon to that 
of Nancy, much farther north. Thus, 
with just about all of the units arriv- 
ing from the Atlantic coast that could 
be expected, the so-called salient had 
outlived its usefulness. However, 
Blaskowitz could not order too deep a 
withdrawal. Patton's Third Army was 
still moving east, and OB West had 
just transferred control of the 
German First Army — formerly on Army 
Group B's left, or southern, wing — to 
Army Croup G. The change made 
Blaskowitz responsible for launching 
the Hitler-proposed armored counter- 
attack from the Nancy area against 
the Third Army. Although the army 
group commander could now afford 
to have the bulk of Wiese's Nineteenth 
Army pull back to the Vosges, a cer- 
tain portion of it plus the entire First 
Army would have to remain west of 
the mountains to defend Lorraine. 14 

To effect these changes, Blaskowitz 
directed the LXVI Corps to withdraw 
its forces east thirty-five miles from 
Chatillon-sur-Seine to Langres, fifty 
miles north of Dijon. From Langres 
the LXVI Corps' new front was to 
stretch north some twenty miles to 
Chaumont, where it would then swing 
northeast to Nancy. He also instruct- 
ed Wiese to pull the LXIV Corps back 
to the Saone, abandoning Dijon, and 
even farther east should French ad- 
vances make it necessary; at the same 
time, Blaskowitz gave him permission 
to withdraw his forces from the 
Doubs River back to the northeast. 
Wiese, in turn, began pulling the di- 



14 The ensuing contest between the U.S. Third 
Army and the German First Army is the subject of 
Cole's The Lorraine Campaign. 



verse elements of the LXIV Corps, the 
IV Luftwaffe Field Corps, and Corps 
Dehner back to the east and northeast 
in an attempt to establish a new de- 
fensive line centering around Vesoul, 
a road and rail hub at the base of the 
Vosges some thirty miles northeast of 
the Doubs River line. Only in the far 
southeast, where the 11th Panzer Divi- 
sion and assorted battle detachments 
held the Allied forces at bay before 
the Belfort Gap, did the Nineteenth 
Army 's front appear relatively stable. 

During 7 and 8 September the 
LXIV Corps redeployed the weak 716th 
and 189th Divisions to the Auxonne- 
St. Vit area, and prepared to move 
back even farther east on the 9th. In 
what had now become the Nineteenth 
Army's center, Petersen's IV Luftwaffe 
Field Corps began falling back ten 
miles to the Ognon River. There 
Wiese wanted Petersen to establish an 
intermediate defensive line with the 
198th Division and Corps Dehner (now 
little more than a regimental-sized 
task force of the 159th Division) in the 
center; the 338th Division on its right, 
or western, wing; and a new forma- 
tion, Group Degener, on its left, or east- 
ern, wing. 15 Composed of several odd 
police and security units, some provi- 
sional infantry companies organized 
from stragglers assembled at Belfort, 
and a couple of 88-mm. antiaircraft 
batteries, this patchwork organization 
was reinforced with a battalion 
combat team from the 11th Panzer Di- 
vision and later by a new provisional 
security regiment. With Group Degener 



15 The group commander, Brig. Gen. Joachim De- 
gener, had formerly commanded the 997th Feldkom- 
mandantur and had led one of the IV Luftwaffe Field 
Corps columns out of southern France. Group Degener 
had initially operated under LXXXV Corps control. 



192 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



anchoring the corps' left wing at 
l'lsle-sur-les-Doubs, and the 338th Di- 
vision holding the corps' right at 
Ognon, about ten miles north of St. 
Vit, Wiese hoped that he could tie his 
center defenses into those of the 
LXIV Corps, retreating from the sa- 
lient. However, before the new posi- 
tions could be firmly established, 
Truscott's VI Corps was again on the 
move. 

On 9 September Truscott ordered 
his three divisions to wheel to the 
east, pivoting on the 45th Division 
in the l'lsle-sur-les-Doubs region. 
O'Daniel's 3d Division, in the center 
of the VI Corps line, had the mission 
of taking Vesoul, while Dahlquist's 
36th, on the corps' left, was to swing 
wide to the north, keeping east of the 
Saone River, and end up in the 
Vosges foothills. Above the 36th Divi- 
sion, the 117th Cavalry was to screen 
the corps' northern flank and tie into 
the French II Corps as it pushed east 
from Dijon. 

Resuming its advance on the 10th, 
the 3d Division encountered strong 
resistance along the approaches to 
Vesoul by Corps Dehner and the 198th 
Division, but, just to the west of the 
3d, Dahlquist's 36th Division pene- 
trated the defending 338th Division's 
positions before the unit had time to 
deploy all its forces. Regarding 
Vesoul as critical, Truscott considered 
sending the bulk of the 36th to assist 
the 3d. However, on the night of 10- 
1 1 September, Wiese decided to pull 
both the battered 338th Division and 
Corps Dehner out of the line, and again 
move the boundary between the LXIV 
Corps and the IV Luftwaffe Field Corps 
eastward, thereby leaving Vesoul de- 
fended only by the weak 198th Divi- 



sion. Apprised of these changes, Trus- 
cott held back the 36th Division, but 
finally approved its reinforcement of 
O'Daniel's units when the 3d Division 
proved unable to wrest the town from 
a German garrison that was larger 
than expected. 16 Finally, about noon 
on the 12th, with units of both the 
36th and 3d Divisions beginning to 
surround Vesoul, the LXIV Corps or- 
dered an immediate evacuation, and 
by 1500 that afternoon General 
O'Daniel pronounced the town 
secure. 

Southeast of Vesoul, the 45th Divi- 
sion had less distance to travel, but 
the hilly terrain in its area favored the 
defense, and Group Degener, reinforced 
with armor, gave little ground without 
a fight. The German failure to hold at 
Vesoul finally forced Wiese to pull 
Group Degener back, but he quickly 
used it to form a new line defending 
the northern approaches to the Bel- 
fort Gap under the LXXXV Corps, and 
further reinforced the area with the 
159th Division, somewhat reorganized 
and strengthened after its ordeal at 
Besancon. Below the 45th Divi- 
sion, I Corps' 3d Algerian Division 
still lacked the strength to make much 
of an impression on the 11th Panzer 
Division, now reinforced by Regiment 
Menke, a provisional infantry force op- 
erating in the more rugged terrain 
near the Swiss border. 

During 13 and 14 September, Trus- 
cott's three divisions completed their 
wheeling movement against the Bel- 



16 The exact composition of the Vesoul garrison is 
unknown, but it apparently consisted of the 602d 
Mobile Battalion (formerly with Group Taeglichsbeck at 
Dijon), elements of the 189th and 198th Divisions, 
and two understrength security regiments, all now 
controlled by LXIV Corps after the boundary shift. 



PURSUIT TO THE NORTH 



193 



The Champagne Campaign Comes to a Close 



fort Gap, moving up to the towns of 
Fougerolles, Luxeuil, Lure, and Vil- 
lersexel. To the north, units of the 
French II Corps from Dijon began to 
arrive above the 36th Division, and in 
the south leading elements of the 
French I Corps occupied the sector 
from the 3d Division's southern flank 
to the Swiss border. In the German 
center the LXIV and IV Luftwaffe Field 
Corps appeared nearly broken; neither 
was capable of deploying more than a 
confusing medley of ill-trained and 
poorly armed provisional units in the 
path of the American advance. Trus- 
cott felt that the Nineteenth Army was 
close to collapse and, on the 14th, 
planned to launch what he expected 
would be a final push into the Belfort 
Gap. However, early on 14 Septem- 



ber he received new orders from 
General Patch canceling all current 
operations. Both the Seventh Army 
and the VI Corps had now come 
under the authority of Eisenhower's 
SHAEF headquarters, whose oper- 
ational priorities and objectives did 
not envision possession of the Belfort 
Gap as especially significant. Up to 
now Patch, Truscott, and de Lattre 
had operated almost independently, 
with only loose supervision on the 
battlefield from General Wilson, the 
Allied commander-in-chief of the 
Mediterranean theater, through his 
deputy, General Devers. After 14 Sep- 
tember, however, the plans of Patch 
and his principal commanders would 
have to conform to a larger oper- 
ational framework dictated by 



194 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



SHAEF. For all purposes the cam- 
paign of southern France was official- 
ly over and a new one begun, one in 
which the Mediterranean-based Allied 
army would obviously play a lesser 
role than before. 

An Evaluation 

By this time the Seventh Army had 
chalked up an impressive record. The 
success of Anvil from an operational, 
tactical, and technical point of view 
was obvious. Despite the shortage of 
amphibious shipping and the con- 
straints on planning and training, the 
execution of the operation had been 
almost flawless. From the German 
perspective, Blaskowitz and Wiese 
probably could not have prevented 
the Allied lodgment, but their re- 
sponse had been more disorganized 
than warranted, and the timely with- 
drawal orders saved them further em- 
barrassment. Once ashore, Truscott 
had no intention of remaining within 
the beachhead — as had his ill-fated 
predecessor in the Anzio debacle 
barely six months earlier — and nei- 
ther did Patch and de Lattre. Despite 
subsequent speculation over the pos- 
sibilities of the battle at Montelimar, 
any extra fuel and vehicles that Patch 
might have been able to bring ashore 
under a different loading configura- 
tion would probably have gone to the 
French divisions driving on the vital 
ports, and not to Truscott's VI Corps. 
An even greater reshuffling of the 
Anvil assault force would probably 
have changed little as well. The two 
French armored divisions were inex- 
perienced, and the three mobile 
American infantry divisions could not 
have moved very far north whatever 



additional support units were brought 
ashore until at least Toulon had been 
secured. Nor could Patch or Truscott 
have foreseen the complete disorgani- 
zation of the German defenses in 
northern France prior to the start of 
Anvil. The Allied commands were 
unable to confirm the breakout from 
Normandy until the failure of the 
Mortain counterattack on 10 August, 
and by the time that the American 
and Canadian forces in the north 
were beginning their attempt to close 
the Falaise Pocket on the 13th, all 
500 or so Anvil invasion ships were 
loaded and ready to sail. Moreover, a 
German collapse in the north did not 
guarantee a German withdrawal in the 
south, however logical that course of 
action may seem in retrospect. 

Clearly Truscott's efforts to trap 
the Nineteenth Army and speed up the 
advance of the VI Corps northward 
along the Besancon-Belfort axis to 
within striking distance of the Rhine 
River had not succeeded. Nor had his 
forces been able to split the front of 
the rapidly retreating Nineteenth Army 
or to isolate those units in the Dijon 
salient. The Germans had repeatedly 
been able to shift their forces more 
rapidly and defend key areas more te- 
naciously than either Truscott or 
Patch had believed possible. Never- 
theless, it was equally clear that the 
French would not have been able to 
concentrate their forces east of Lyon 
quickly enough to have undertaken a 
similar drive, especially since any 
delays would have made the advance 
toward the Belfort area even more 
difficult. As at Montelimar and Lyon, 
Truscott and Patch had once again 
shown a willingness to take a calculat- 
ed risk, taking full advantage of the 



PURSUIT TO THE NORTH 



195 



campaign's momentum and ready to 
capitalize on any errors their oppo- 
nents might make. Had they attacked 
toward Belfort on a narrower front, 
they might have had more success, 
but such a maneuver would also have 
exposed the VI Corps' left, or north- 
ern, flank to a German counterattack 
and in addition would have allowed 
Wiese to concentrate more of his own 
forces along the immediate and more 
defensible approaches to the gap. In 
any case, a rapid seizure of the gap 
itself would not have necessarily 
opened up the Alsatian interior and 
the Rhine valley, since the Seventh 
Army's logistical problems would 
have multiplied even further. 

Logistical problems, mainly fuel 
and transportation shortages, played 
a major role in slowing down the 
Allied advance in both northern and 
southern France. Increasing the allo- 
cations of fuel and trucks to the initial 
assault force might have helped some- 
what at Montelimar, but could not 
have substituted for the seizure and 
rehabilitation of the larger ports, es- 
pecially Marseille. Their early con- 
quest by de Lattre's aggressive 
French units gave the Seventh Army 
an important supply edge over the 
Normandy-based Allied armies, al- 
though this advantage would dissipate 
as the distance between the Mediter- 
ranean harbors and the battlefield 
grew ever longer. By the time the 
Seventh Army had reached the Mo- 
selle, American engineer units had re- 
stored the ports, but they were just 
beginning the frantic effort to repair 
and expand the French north-south 
railway system. Other critical factors 
slowing the progress of the Seventh 
Army during early September includ- 



ed the lack of close air support, wors- 
ening weather, and general troop fa- 
tigue. The first problem was a logisti- 
cal and engineering one solved by the 
gradual displacement of airfields 
north, but answers to the other two 
were more elusive. 17 

Troop fatigue, affecting both offi- 
cers and men, was difficult to quanti- 
fy. On 9 September General Butler, 
who had returned to his post as as- 
sistant VI Corps commander after 
Montelimar, noted the declining ag- 
gressiveness of the front-line troops 
and a tendency to rely more often on 
artillery and mortar fire in small 
combat engagements. 18 This reluc- 
tance to close with the enemy — to rely 
more on firepower than on maneuver 
on the battlefield — was, he felt, a sign 
that the combat troops and especially 
their leaders were beginning to tire, 
psychologically if not physically. By 
that time the VI Corps had advanced 
some 300 miles from its Anvil assault 
beaches in just twenty-six days (Eisen- 
hower's SHAEF forces had taken 
ninety-six days to cover a similar dis- 
tance) and the actual travel mileage 
was obviously much greater. The 3d 
Division's command post, for exam- 
ple, had moved along some 400 miles 
of French roads on its way north from 
Alpha Red to Besancon, and many 
other units, such as the 117th Cavalry 
Squadron, had covered even more 
ground. According to one participant, 
the VI Corps headquarters units 
became so adept at moving that 
"those fellows could knock it down 



17 For a more detailed treatment of logistics and 
air support, see chapter 1 1 . 

18 Msg, Butler to Truscott, 091900 Sep 44, Entry 
100, VI Corps War Rm Jnl, 9 Sep 44. 



196 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



and, just like Ringling Brothers 
[Circus], set it up again" at a mo- 
ment's notice. 19 In the rear areas, the 
American and French advance north- 
ward had indeed been somewhat of a 
circus. Most Seventh Army soldiers 
had come on foot because of the criti- 
cal shortage of trucks, which was ag- 
gravated by the continuing need to 
divert almost all vehicles to support 
the lengthening supply lines. In the 
French formations, de Lattre's offi- 
cers drafted civilian autos, river boats, 
horse carts, and any type of function- 
ing captured vehicles that could fur- 
ther the movement of troops and sup- 
plies north. Finally, although the 
SHAEF troops had certainly seen 
more fighting, they were also a larger 
force, able to distribute the rigors of 
the campaign over many more divi- 
sions; while in the case of the Seventh 
Army, most of the advance had been 
accomplished by a smaller number of 
units operating without respite. Thus, 
after pushing an average of ten miles 
per day, normally on foot, through 
German-defended territory, the for- 
ward infantry units of the Seventh 
Army had understandably begun to 
wear out as they approached the Bel- 
fort Gap and the Vosges Mountains. 

Casualties also began to influence 
VI Corps' effectiveness. As of the 
evening of 9 September the corps had 
suffered over 4,500 battle casualties 
(including 2,050 killed, captured, or 
missing) and some 5,300 nonbattle 
casualties. Of the nearly 9,900 losses, 
about 2,900 men had been returned 
to duty; although the corps received 



19 Robert F. Ensslin (a former VI Corps G-2 staff 
officer), "SOD Program," MS (29 Sep 77), in Theo- 
dore J. Conroy Papers, MHI. 



around 1,800 replacements, it was 
short about 5,200, mostly infantry- 
men. French casualties were slightly 
higher, although spread out over a 
greater number of units. 20 With most 
of the Allied armies in both France 
and Italy in the same situation, there 
was general competition for infantry 
fillers that, for the time being, could 
not be fully satisfied except by canni- 
balizing new units or turning support 
units into rifle formations — solutions 
that had only adverse effects in the 
long run. 

Weather was another important 
consideration. Inclement weather 
almost always penalizes the attacker 
by reducing the mobility of military 
forces. By 9 September the French 
autumn rains had begun in earnest; 
streams were rising, and cross-coun- 
try movement was becoming progres- 
sively more difficult. Trails and dry- 
weather roads turned into quagmires, 
forcing most vehicles to rely on paved 
routes, many of which were deterio- 
rating rapidly under heavy military 
traffic. In addition, the overcast 
weather reduced the amount of air 
support available, greatly limiting its 
ability to interdict German move- 
ments during September. Terrain was 
also a factor, for by 9 September both 



20 The figures cited are only estimates based on 
conflicting statistics from Seventh Army G-l, G-3, 
and G-5 sources; HQ, VI Corps, records; and the 
records of VI Corps' major subdivisions. French cas- 
ualty figures are especially difficult to arrive at, and 
in both armies the attachment and detachment of 
various units and the accounting of FFI losses great- 
ly complicated all strength and casualty summaries. 
Officially, VI Corps records indicate that it had an 
assigned strength of 64,430 troops and an effective, 
or present-for-duty, strength of 62,145, for a short- 
age of 2,285; but the "assigned" strength may not 
reflect "authorized" strength or even the strength 
of the units when they first landed. 



PURSUIT TO THE NORTH 



197 



the VI Corps and the French I Corps 
were well into hilly, often wooded 
ground that gave many advantages to 
the defense. The combination of all 
these factors — transportation, supply, 
fatigue, weather, and terrain — thus 
began to blunt the edge of the Sev- 
enth Army's combat power, especially in 
the final drive toward the Belfort Gap. 

An accurate appraisal of the 
German actions is difficult. Finally 
forced to make a stand between Dijon 
and Belfort, Wiese and Blaskowitz 
had managed to hold the area for a 
few critical days before retiring to the 
Vosges and the gap. If the conduct of 
the defense had lacked a certain grace 
and finesse, at least it was handled 
well enough to avoid a catastrophe. 
Despite the makeshift character of the 
successive defensive lines, Wiese was 
becoming more skillful at presenting 
a continuous front to his pursuers, 
thus guarding his own flanks and, by 
persevering, keeping the Seventh 
Army well away from the German 
border. The losses of both Army Group 
G and the Nineteenth Army, however, 
had been staggering, and Truscott's 
estimate that Wiese's forces were 
close to a total collapse was correct. 
Between 3 and 14 September the Sev- 
enth Army had captured another 
12,250 Germans, about 6,500 of them 
taken by VI Corps troops. Adding the 
nearly 20,000 men of Group Elster, 
which had been cut off west of Dijon, 
the Allies had now captured roughly 
65,250 men that Army Group G had 
tried to extricate from southern and 
western France. To this figure must 
be added the 31,000 German prison- 
ers taken at Toulon and Marseille by 
the French, the 25,000 left hopelessly 
isolated in Atlantic coast garrisons, 



and some 10,000 prisoners taken by 
the U.S. Third Army from units that 
Army Group G had dispatched north of 
Dijon to protect its weak right flank. 
The grand total of prisoners alone 
(plus the troops isolated on the west 
coast) came to 131,250, over 40 per- 
cent of Army Group G's original 
strength on 15 August. 

From available sources it is impos- 
sible to ascertain with any degree of 
accuracy the losses in killed and 
wounded among the units employed 
by Army Group G through 14 Septem- 
ber. Estimates run as high as 7,000 
killed and three times that number 
wounded. If so, Army Group G, as of 
the evening of the 14 th, had incurred 
at least 143,250 casualties, over half 
of its strength a month earlier. 21 

The German units that survived 
both the arduous trek out of southern 
and southwestern France and the 
fighting against Seventh Army's 
French and American forces certainly 
did not resemble cohesive combat or- 
ganizations by 14 September. All 
units were grossly understrength and 
underequipped; not one of the Nine- 
teenth Army's divisions deserved the 
title. The German troops were tired — 
even more than the VI Corps infan- 
trymen — and their logistical system 
was a shambles. The 338th Division 
had fewer than 3,200 men left on its 



21 The percentage loss is somewhat greater if the 
two divisions with about 10,000 troops, transferred 
to OB Southwest, are left out of consideration. Diffi- 
culties arise when factoring into the strength and 
loss figures the many provisional units, such Regi- 
ment Menke, and the many other police units turned 
into light infantry. The figures in the text thus re- 
flect only the losses of Army Group G as it existed on 
15 August, including Luftwaffe, naval, and Army Area 
Southern France troops. The figure of 143,250 does 
not include the Atlantic coast garrisons. 



198 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



rolls, and of these only 1,100 were 
combat effectives. The 159th Division 
had less than 3,500 effectives left; the 
716th Division probably had 3,250; the 
198th not more than 2,400; and the 
189th less than 1,000. And many of 
these "effectives" were not experi- 
enced infantrymen at all, but a mix- 
ture of police, administrative, and lo- 
gistical support, navy, and other 
fillers thrown into depleted units as 
cannon fodder. The 11th Panzer Divi- 
sion, which had reached Lyon almost 
completely intact, had suffered heavy 
losses between 3 and 14 September, 
ending up with only 6,500 men, of 
whom only 2,500 were in line combat 
battalions. In addition, the panzer di- 
vision had lost all but a dozen of its 
tanks and was down to two operating 
self-propelled guns. Furthermore, the 
Nineteenth Army's many provisional 
kampfgruppen had lost up to 30 per- 
cent of their strength during the same 
period, but no one could tell exactly. 

The good news for Army Group G's 
soldiers was the increasingly favorable 
defensive terrain into which their 
units were now withdrawing as well as 
the reduced frontage they would have 
to defend. Already, German support 
units were constructing hasty de- 
fenses in the Vosges Mountains and 



repairing and reorienting old fixed 
French fortifications in the Montbe- 
liard-Belfort area. Reserves were 
building up in and around Belfort, 
while a steady flow of better trained 
replacements and newer equipment 
had begun to arrive from Germany 
for the units facing VI Corps. Be- 
tween 14 and 19 September, for ex- 
ample, the 11th Panzer Division's oper- 
ational tank strength more than dou- 
bled, even though the unit lost more 
tanks during that period. Army Group 
G's supply lines had also grown much 
shorter, making the almost traditional 
logistical problems of the German 
Army less pressing. The approaching 
winter weather promised to decrease 
even more the effectiveness of Allied 
air attacks and to hide German mili- 
tary movements and dispositions from 
Allied observation. On the other 
hand, the German Army had just 
about run out of space to trade for its 
survival in the west. If the Allied 
armies could engineer a major break- 
through in the weakly held German 
lines before the defenders had a 
chance to recover, the collapse that 
Truscott had hoped for might well 
follow. Nevertheless, for both sides 
one major campaign had ended and a 
new one was about to begin. 



CHAPTER XI 



Supporting the Campaign 



Military support operations were 
vital to the campaign in southern 
France, strongly influencing both the 
operational course of the Allied 
armies and their rate of advance. Of 
the many aspects of military support, 
logistics was by far the most critical to 
the ground combat forces. Like most 
contemporary land armies, the Sev- 
enth Army needed to provide an 
almost continuous supply of fuel and 
ammunition to its various fighting, or 
tactical, components in order to be 
successful on the battlefield. The 
availability of such supplies often de- 
termined whether the army would 
conduct defensive or offensive oper- 
ations as well as the nature and dura- 
tion of these operations. This supply 
capability, in turn, depended on the 
establishment and maintenance of a 
land and sea logistical pipeline that 
began in the American industrial 
heartland and wound its way through 
many intermediate bases as well as 
through various transport modes to 
ports in Europe, and from there to 
the users in the field. At each of the 
many way stations along the route to 
the front lines, such supplies might 
encounter administrative or physical 
difficulties, or bottlenecks, which 
could threaten the operation of the 



entire pipeline, whether on the pro- 
duction line, at sea, or during the 
complex transferral of cargoes from 
ocean-going to ground depots and 
land transportation facilities at one of 
the European ports. With the battle 
of the Atlantic won by 1944, the next 
logistical campaign took place on the 
beachheads and in the ports of 
Europe, with Allied military success 
on the Continent heavily dependent 
on the transfer of men, materiel, and 
supplies from ship to shore as quickly 
as possible. 

At this stage, the availability of am- 
phibious vessels was critical for the 
initial deployment of Allied ground 
tactical units in Europe, and the ac- 
quisition of continental ports was cru- 
cial for maintaining these forces logis- 
tically. Early in the war Germany's 
logistical difficulties in North Africa 
and on the Russian front demonstrat- 
ed the folly of giving such matters in- 
adequate attention. The American 
and British high commands, more fa- 
miliar with the difficulties in support- 
ing overseas campaigns, were better 
prepared, although their own logisti- 
cal problems often seemed to belie 
their greater experience. 

Tactical air support was less critical 
given the weakness of the Luftwaffe at 



200 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



this stage of the war, but certainly the 
absence of support would have re- 
tarded the Allied advance, especially 
if German air capabilities had been 
greater. But, to be effective, the tacti- 
cal air arm — that is, those air units 
dedicated to providing direct support 
to ground combat forces— also re- 
quired an elaborate system of bases 
and depots, especially as the front 
lines moved deeper inland, and this 
network, in turn, was dependent on 
the overall Allied logistical effort. 1 

Logistical Problems 

With unhappy memories of Sicily, 
Salerno, and Anzio in mind, Anvil 
planners had expected strong 
German resistance and, consequently, 
had loaded the assault and early 
follow-up convoys heavily in favor of 
combat units and munitions. As a 
result, the early cargo and personnel 



1 More detailed treatment of logistics can be 
found in other volumes of the United States Army 
in World War II series, including Roland G. Rup- 
penthal, Logistical Support of the Armies, II (Washing- 
ton, 1959), pp. 38-40, 118-23, 156; Joseph By- 
kofsky and Harold Larson, The Transportation Corps: 
Operations Overseas (Washington, 1957), pp. 290-98; 
William F. Ross and Charles F. Romanus, The Quar- 
termaster Corps: Operations in the War Against Germany 
(Washington, 1965), pp. 119-21, 140-47, 169; and 
Alfred Beck et al., The Corps of Engineers: The War 
Against Germans (Washington, 1985), pp. 436-60. 
Other published sources included Seventh Army Rpt, 
I, 125-34, 144, 315-22; CONAD History, pp. 21-69; 
Hewitt, "Executing Operation ANVIL-DRA- 
GOON," U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, LXXX, No. 
8 (August 1954), 897-925. 

CMH manuscript sources were Lida Mayo, "The 
Corps of Engineers in the War Against Germans," 
chs. 16 and 18; and Meyer, "MTO History," chs. 
26-28. Official record sources were Seventh Army 
Engr AAR, Jan-Sep 44; 3d Inf Div AAR, Aug 44, 
sec. IV, Supply; TFs 84, 85, and 87 after action re- 
ports for southern France; WNTF Rpt Southern 
France; and N-2 Section, Eighth Fleet, Survey of 
Assault Beaches, Invasion of Southern France. 



landings included far less vehicles, 
POL stocks, troop rations, cargo-han- 
dling equipment, and service units 
and personnel than an army would 
normally need to support a mobile of- 
fensive. However, the relatively inef- 
fective German resistance, the accel- 
erated arrival of First French Army 
units, and the unexpectedly rapid 
penetration northward by all Allied 
forces quickly led to a serious short- 
age of vehicles and fuel. After Monte- 
limar, the continued acceleration of 
the Seventh Army's operational time- 
table — caused primarily by its aggres- 
sive pursuit of retreating German 
forces — made it nearly impossible for 
the army's logisticians to solve the 
Allied supply problems satisfactorily. 
On 14 September, D plus 30, the Sev- 
enth Army's French and American 
units had reached an operational situ- 
ation that most Anvil planners had 
not expected until around D plus 120. 

On the assault beaches, good 
weather, low tidal differentials, weak 
surf, and the absence of strong 
German resistance combined to mini- 
mize unloading problems. Although 
the delay in seizing the 36th Divi- 
sion's Camel Red beach postponed 
the discharge of some assault ship- 
ping for about thirty-six hours, the 
unexpected usefulness of Camel 
Green, together with the other favor- 
able conditions, easily overcame this 
handicap. Camel Green not only sub- 
stituted for Camel Red for three days, 
but also took much of the discharge 
traffic scheduled for Agay Roadstead. 
After some bulk cargo went ashore 
over the Agay beach, Agay was closed 
on 19 August, and its operations were 
transferred to Camel Red, which had 
opened the evening of 17 August. 



SUPPORTING THE CAMPAIGN 



201 



Although some of the 45th Divi- 
sion's Delta beaches did not have 
good exits to the interior, they 
proved generally adequate on D-day. 
Late on the 16th, unloading began 
over new beaches at the head of the 
St. Tropez gulf, which allowed the 
Delta beach group to close out some 
less desirable strands. The Seventh 
Army had planned to make some use 
of minor harbor facilities at St. 
Tropez and Ste. Maxime, but the two 
ports were employed mainly by naval 
and air force units; Seventh Army 
cargo there was limited largely to 
medical supplies. 

Only over the 3d Division's Alpha 
beaches, especially Alpha Red on Ca- 
valaire Bay, were there serious dis- 
charge problems. At Alpha Red, 
beach and underwater mines forced a 
shutdown for a considerable period, 
delaying the landing of some artillery 
and armored units for over eight 
hours before paths could be cleared. 
At Alpha Yellow on Pampelone Bay, 
offshore sandbars made for wet land- 
ings, causing a number of vehicles to 
drown on the shoreward side of the 
bars and requiring the construction of 
long pontoon causeways for LST dis- 
charge. In addition, lateral movement 
across the soft sand was impossible 
for vehicles, and the few good beach 
exits quickly became jammed. Finally, 
using logs left behind by the Ger- 
mans, the beach group was able to 
put together makeshift roadbeds and 
continue unloading; but the beach 
was closed on 17 August in favor of a 
new site a mile or so to the east. Had 
there been strong resistance at these 
beaches, the delays might have 
proved serious. 

On D-day, approximately 60,150 



Allied troops and 6,735 vehicles went 
ashore over Alpha, Delta, and Camel 
beaches, as opposed to a preassault 
schedule of 84,000 troops and 12,000 
vehicles. 2 The beaches also handled 
about 50,000 long tons of supplies 
(excluding cargo aboard vehicles) on 
D-day. The shortfall from the original 
schedule was more than made up by 
17 August, when discharge operations 
became centralized under the Beach 
Control Group, a subordinate agency 
of Seventh Army G-4. Established a 
day earlier than planned, the central- 
ized control permitted tighter organi- 
zation of discharge operations, as well 
as the more expeditious transfer of 
landing ships and landing craft 
among beaches as the need arose. 
Coastal Base Section took over both 
beach operations and the Beach Con- 
trol Group from the Seventh Army on 
9 September, about a week earlier 
than planned, and continued the cen- 
tralized control. 

The early capture of Toulon and 
Marseille made it possible to close 
out beach operations sooner than ex- 
pected — namely, except for one un- 
seasonable storm, before the mistral 
weather began. The Alpha beaches 
stopped handling cargo on 9 Septem- 
ber; the Delta beaches closed out on 
the 16th; the last Camel beach shut 
down on the 28th. Planners had esti- 
mated that the beaches could take in 
277,700 tons of cargo through D plus 



2 The records do not disclose if the higher figures 
were for the original supply plan or for the revised 
combat-heavy loading plan. All logistical statistics 
set forth in this chapter are the authors' estimates 
and are based on sources difficult to reconcile. In 
some cases these (and other figures) are carried 
through to the end of September because there 
were no mid-month statistics. 



202 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



30. Actually, they accepted over 
280,000 tons (excluding POL, vehi- 
cles, and cargo aboard vehicles) 
through 14 September and more than 
20,000 additional tons through the 
28th. 

The high rate of discharge over the 
beaches created its own problems. 
From the beginning the capabilities of 
landing ships, landing craft, and 
DUKWs to put cargo ashore out- 
stripped the ability of the Beach 
Group to handle the material and 
clear the beaches. The principal rea- 
sons were inadequate transportation, 
lack of service troops and units, short- 
age of beach matting, and insufficient 
heavy equipment such as cranes, trac- 
tors, and bulldozers — deficiencies that 
resulted from the planners' decision 
to load the early convoys heavily for 
combat. By D plus 5 the beach clear- 
ance and supply forwarding problems 
had reached a critical stage. Seventh 
Army and NATOUSA had already 
begun to seek ways to speed the ar- 
rival of service units and their equip- 
ment, especially truck units. But it 
proved difficult to change the sched- 
ule or the cargo of convoys and ships 
already loaded or partially loaded, 
and the decision to accelerate the ar- 
rival of French troops temporarily di- 
verted shipping that might have 
brought service units from Africa, 
Italy, and Corsica. Moreover, what 
benefits were derived from hurrying 
forward service units were soon out- 
stripped by the Seventh Army's con- 
tinued rapid and deep penetration. 
These problems, especially in regard 
to transportation, were by no means 
solved by D plus 30, 14 September, 
nor even by the end of the month. 

Hiring civilian labor did little to al- 



leviate the service troop shortage in 
the assault area. Many able-bodied 
men in the region had been deported 
to labor camps or prisons elsewhere, 
while others had joined the FFI or 
fled to North Africa. By D plus 5 Sev- 
enth Army agencies had hired only 
1,000 Frenchmen, mostly old men 
and teenagers; by mid-September 
only 7,000 French civilians were 
working directly for the U.S. Army on 
the Mediterranean coast. 

The Seventh Army made an effort 
to use German POWs (mainly Ost 
troops) in the beach area, but this 
practice was limited by the rules of 
land warfare, local antipathy to 
German uniforms, and language and 
security problems. Of even more im- 
portance was the urgent need to evac- 
uate most German prisoners from 
southern France in order to forestall 
further complications of supply activi- 
ties, especially concerning rations. 3 
Some relief came in the general labor 
category when, late in August, three 
company-sized Italian service units 
reached the beach area, and by the 
end of September about 7,000 Ital- 
ians were at work under U.S. Army 
supervision in southern France. Nev- 
ertheless, shortages of U.S. Army ser- 
vice troops and indigenous French 
labor continued to create difficulties, 
while the Seventh Army's rapid ad- 
vance increased the problems of re- 
supply, not only from the beaches but 
also from the ports as they were reha- 
bilitated. 



3 Some 33,000 POWs were evacuated by 8 Sep- 
tember alone. 



SUPPORTING THE CAMPAIGN 



203 




French Civilians Restoring Railway 

September 1944. 

Base Development 

Viewed from the Allied preassault 
estimate that Toulon would not fall 
until D plus 20 and Marseille no earli- 
er than D plus 45, the collapse of 
German resistance at both port cities 
on 28 August, D plus 13, represented 
an acceleration of about four weeks in 
the expected progress of the cam- 
paign in southern France. This early 
success was as important logistically 
as it was operationally, for port and 
base development could begin much 
sooner than planners had thought 
possible. 

Initially, planners had envisaged 
that Coastal Base Section (CBS) and 
its French affiliate, Base 901, would 



in Seventh Army Area, Nevers, France, 

set up an interim headquarters and 
facilities at Toulon, which would be 
used for most port and base oper- 
ations until Marseille became avail- 
able. But the unexpectedly early sei- 
zure of Marseille prompted a broad 
change in plans. Toulon was basically 
a naval base, and most of its facilities 
were ill-suited to the discharge of 
commercial-type shipping. On the 
other hand, Marseille, the foremost 
port and second city of France, had 
much better facilities for handling 
commercial vessels, provided better 
access to highways and railroads, and 
was better located to support the ad- 
vance northward. In the end, Western 
Naval Task Force took over responsi- 
bility for the rehabilitation of the port 



204 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



of Toulon, which remained primarily 
a naval base, and was turned over to 
French control in October 1944. 

For the ground and air forces, 
Toulon's major contribution was the 
employment of improvised docks for 
unloading vehicles that had been 
deck-loaded on cargo ships. This pro- 
cedure allowed such vessels to move 
on to Marseille with hatches open and 
ready to discharge general cargo, 
thereby saving considerable time in 
the final unloading. Ultimately, 
Toulon became the principal dis- 
charge point for Civil Affairs cargo 
coming into southern France. The 
first quayside ship unloading at 
Toulon began on 5 September, and 
commercial unloading — as opposed to 
naval base activities — was fully under 
way by 20 September. 

At Marseille, an advance party of 
CBS entered the city on 24 August, 
while German demolitions were still 
in progress. The destruction was ex- 
tensive: jetties, quays, cranes, and 
related discharge facilities and equip- 
ment were destroyed or severely dam- 
aged; all port and channel entrances 
were blocked by sunken ships; both 
the inner and outer harbors were 
sown with mines; explosive demoli- 
tions, including booby traps and time 
bombs, had been planted throughout 
the onshore port area; railroad tracks 
had been ripped up; and warehouses, 
transient sheds, and other buildings 
along the waterfront were badly dam- 
aged. Minesweepers, mostly U.S. 
Navy vessels, cleared some 5,000 
mines of various sizes and types from 
the main harbor and contiguous 
waters, while U.S. Army engineers re- 
moved well over thirty tons of explo- 
sives from the dock areas. 



The day after Marseille fell, the 
36th Engineer Combat Regiment 
began moving over from the beach 
area to start land-mine removal and 
other cleanup projects. On 1 Septem- 
ber the U.S. Army's 6th Port (a termi- 
nal service command) and the 1051st 
Engineer Port Construction and 
Repair Group came ashore aboard 
lighters from three Liberty ships an- 
chored offshore to assist the effort. 
Later in the month the 335th Engi- 
neer General Service Regiment took 
over many of the repair tasks, while 
Army engineers and U.S. Navy sal- 
vage units began clearing shipping 
lanes into the inner harbor. On 15 
September the first Liberty ship came 
inOj> the port of Marseille for direct 
ship-to-shore discharge; and by the 
end of the month eighteen quayside 
unloading berths were in use. 

During September the port of Mar- 
seille took in approximately 113,500 
long tons of general cargo, 32,800 ve- 
hicles, and 10,000 barrels of POL. In 
contrast Toulon, in the same month, 
handled about 3,440 long tons of 
general cargo, 19,000 tons of Civil 
Affairs supplies, 23,630 vehicles, and 
80,000 barrels of POL. 

Port-de-Bouc, a satellite port about 
twenty-two miles west of Marseille, 
served primarily for the discharge of 
POL products. The FFI had secured 
Port-de-Bouc and three nearby oil re- 
fineries, which the Germans had not 
destroyed. Part of the 335th Engineer 
General Service Regiment moved 
over from Marseille to undertake the 
repair of port facilities, aided by local 
French contractors, while elements of 
the 697th and 1379th Engineer Petro- 
leum Distribution Companies (EPDs) 
rehabilitated the lightly damaged re- 



SUPPORTING THE CAMPAIGN 



205 



fineries, aided by oil company em- 
ployees. On 10 September U.S. Army 
engineers began constructing a pipe- 
line for 80-octane gasoline from the 
Port-de-Bouc area, but it was early 
November before the line was work- 
ing as far as Lyon. 

An unplanned, bonus supply base, 
Port-de-Bouc came to handle about 
70 percent of the Allied POL require- 
ments as well as a substantial amount 
of general cargo. By the end of Sep- 
tember it had discharged approxi- 
mately 36,840 long tons of general 
supplies and 240,000 barrels of POL 
from twenty-three ships. Total dis- 
charge for the beaches and ports 
through September came to about 
500,000 long tons of general cargo, 
over 25,000 tons of Civil Affairs sup- 
plies, 325,000 troops, 69,000 vehicles, 
and 331,600 barrels of POL. 

On 8 September Coastal Base Sec- 
tion formally opened its headquarters 
and became operational at Marseille. 
The command was redesignated Con- 
tinental Base Section (also abbreviat- 
ed CBS) on 10 September. Already 
the press of events had made it neces- 
sary for CBS to start assuming logisti- 
cal responsibilities from the Seventh 
Army G-4 logistics staff on 1 Septem- 
ber, two weeks earlier than planned. 
At the same time that the CBS head- 
quarters opened at Marseille, CBS 
became administratively responsible 
for noncombat activities from the 
coast north to the Seventh Army's 
moving rear boundary, initially de- 
fined as the area south of Lyon. 

Meanwhile, the Seventh Army's 
rapid drive northward also made it 
imperative for supply agencies to 
send representatives forward to main- 
tain close liaison with the army G-4 



staff. On 5 September a small ad- 
vance office of CBS opened at Greno- 
ble, and then moved on to Dijon by 
18 September. SOS NATOUSA sent 
an advanced echelon of its headquar- 
ters to Marseille on 12 September, 
which continued on to Lyon on the 
14th. During the same period Seventh 
Army, VI Corps, and CBS were 
making every possible effort to move 
supplies, dumps, depots, and supply 
points northward. On 10 September 
the Seventh Army opened its main 
supply station at Amberieu. Engineer 
and Signal Corps depots were set up 
near Bourg-en-Bresse, and a major 
medical supply depot was moved up 
to a point near Besancon on 13 Sep- 
tember. The forward movement of 
depots and supply points continued 
throughout the month. 

Fuel and Transportation 

Whatever other logistical difficulties 
Seventh Army and CBS faced, all 
were overshadowed by the transporta- 
tion problem. This developed not 
only because of combat-heavy loading 
of the assault convoy, but also be- 
cause of a theaterwide shortage of 
truck and railway units as well as Sev- 
enth Army's unexpectedly rapid and 
deep penetration and, finally, POL 
shortages. Truck requirements esca- 
lated at an alarming rate as combat 
units drove farther north and west, 
forcing trucks to make time-consum- 
ing, long round trips to beach dumps, 
which simultaneously increased gaso- 
line consumption. The rate of con- 
sumption immediately surpassed plan- 
ning estimates. The 3d Division 
began to develop severe shortages as 
early as noon of 16 August, D plus 1; 



206 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



the rest of VI Corps started to feel 
the pinch the next day; and by dark 
on 19 August the gasoline supply sit- 
uation had become critical. 

To assist, beach officials diverted 
LCTs and DUKWs from general un- 
loading to bring ashore about 50,000 
gallons of packaged gasoline from a 
ship in an early convoy. This measure 
proved only a temporary expedient, 
however, as the VI Corps' three divi- 
sions alone were consuming about 
100,000 gallons of gas per day, and 
as of 21 August only 11,000 gallons 
were left in beach dumps. Captured 
German POL dumps at Draguignan, 
Le Muy, and Digne helped, as did 
gasoline found at damaged French re- 
fineries in the Marseille and Port-de- 
Bouc areas. But the immediate, criti- 
cal shortage was not alleviated until a 
six-million-gallon tanker arrived on 
27 August. The 697th EPD Company, 
which had landed on D-day, unloaded 
this fuel at St. Raphael, where the 
unit had already constructed storage 
tanks, emplaced tanker discharge 
equipment, and organized fuel can- 
ning facilities. More help for the for- 
ward area came on 9 September when 
the VI Corps captured another 
German POL dump near Besancon 
containing about 183,000 gallons of 
high-octane gasoline and 36,500 gal- 
lons of diesel fuel. The gasoline had 
to be cut with 80-octane fuel before it 
could be used in American vehicles, 
but the cutting process boosted the 
total amount of fuel available. 

Obtaining POL, however, did not 
mean that such products could be de- 
livered to the right units at the right 
time and place. The same held true 
for rations, ammunition, and other 
supplies. There still remained the 



problems of truck shortages, time, 
and distance. To help alleviate the 
general transportation problem, the 
Seventh Army G-4 assumed central- 
ized control over all separate truck 
units as soon as possible and, on oc- 
casion, took charge of transportation 
organic to the infantry divisions 
(which hardly pleased the tactical 
commanders). The Seventh Army also 
found it necessary to impose rigid 
movement and traffic controls, which 
CBS continued to exercise after 
taking over traffic responsibility from 
the Seventh Army on 9 September. 

Other expedients became necessary 
as well. For example, by the end of 
August all units coming into France 
over the beaches were required to 
reload their organic vehicles with sup- 
plies for the forward combat units 
and make one round trip to the for- 
ward area. On the other hand, trucks 
and drivers organic to service units 
scheduled to move northward were 
sometimes retained in the port and 
beach areas for general supply oper- 
ations, thereby slowing forward move- 
ment. At one point during the battle 
of Montelimar the Seventh Army G-4 
formed a thirty-truck ammunition 
convoy from organic 3d Division vehi- 
cles to haul ammunition to the 36th 
Division — an action that, however 
necessary, retarded the 3d Division's 
own progress northward. In addition, 
the G-4 imposed restrictions on the 
consumption and shipment of some 
items of supply in order to gain trans- 
portation to move others that were 
more sorely needed by units in the 
north. Thus, during one period of the 
battle, the combat troops were put on 
two-thirds rations so that vehicles 
normally used to haul food could be 



SUPPORTING THE CAMPAIGN 



207 



diverted to bring up fuel and ammu- 
nition. 

Truck shortages forced logisticians 
to undertake railroad rehabilitation 
much earlier and on a grander scale 
than had been contemplated during 
Anvil planning. Sections of the 
narrow-gauge coastal railroad in the 
beachhead area were operational — 
with French civilian crews — as early as 
17 August and contributed signifi- 
cantly to beach clearance operations. 
The main line, standard-gauge rail- 
road opened from Frejus west to Ste. 
Maxime on 23 August, and was ex- 
tended to the west and north as tacti- 
cal circumstances permitted. 

Although the Germans and MAAF 
had destroyed many railroad bridges, 
damage to railbeds and rolling stock 
was more limited, and sufficient roll- 
ing stock and French trainmen were 
soon rounded up to allow sections of 
railroad to become operational. 4 
Sometimes rail movements required 
truck assistance. For example, breaks 
in the main easterly railroad line be- 
tween Meyrargues and Sisteron made 
it necessary to transfer cargo from 
trains to trucks at Meyrargues and 
then shift the cargo again to trains at 
Sisteron. By mid-September tempo- 
rary bridges were in place at major 
breaks, and the eastern line was open 
as far as Bourg-en-Bresse, 220 miles 
from the assault beaches. Before the 
end of the month, the line had been 
extended to Besancon with an initial 
capacity of 1,500 tons of cargo per 
day. By 25 September the double- 



4 Additional information on railroad rehabilitation 
comes from Carl R. Gray, Jr., Railroading in Eighteen 
Countries (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1955), 
pp. 195-201. 



track line up the east bank of the 
Rhone was open from Marseille to 
Lyon, with a capacity of 3,000 tons a 
day. Before the end of September the 
repaired western line was pushed out 
to Dijon, Vesoul, and Besancon, and 
the easterly line, which passed 
through more rugged terrain, was 
stretched to the First French Army 
area opposite the Belfort Gap. 

The urgent need for early rehabili- 
tation of the railroads prompted 
changes in the arrival schedules of 
U.S. Army railroad units. The 703d 
Railway Grand Division (originally 
scheduled for 25 September) and the 
713th Railway Operating Battalion 
(set for 5 September) began unload- 
ing at Marseille on 29 August. The 
parent headquarters of these two 
units, the 1st Military Railway Service, 
also arrived early and opened an ad- 
vanced echelon at Lyon on 14 Sep- 
tember. 

The accelerated railroad rehabilita- 
tion program in this area progressed 
faster than a similar effort in Norman- 
dy, where German demolitions had 
been more thorough. Nevertheless, 
the railroads were unable to carry 
their full share of the supply burden 
for many weeks, and French and 
American units had to continue to 
depend largely on highway transpor- 
tation. The supply statistics for Sep- 
tember tell the story: during the 
month trucks moved some 220,000 
tons of general cargo northward from 
the beaches and ports, while the rail- 
roads hauled slightly more than 
63,000 tons. One inhibiting factor in 
railroad operations was a general 
shortage of high-grade locomotive 
coal in southern France; another was 
a lack of sufficient rolling stock to 



208 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



meet all demands, and it was well into 
October before any. new rolling stock 
came into Marseille. 

One potential transportation prob- 
lem was less troublesome than ex- 
pected. Until bad weather began 
about mid-September, the roads in 
southern France, especially the main 
highways, proved to be adequate for 
military traffic. Moreover, in the as- 
sault area, the combat units found 
intact bridges or easy fords; and 
again, until the autumn rains began, 
forces were able to cross most 
streams with little difficulty as far 
north as Vesoul. On the other hand, 
Seventh Army's rapid penetration cre- 
ated an early bridging problem for lo- 
gistical support operations. Not an- 
ticipating such a quick breakout from 
the beachhead line, the Seventh Army 
had initially brought only one tread- 
way bridge company and had sched- 
uled no more such units until after 5 
September. But as early as 19 August 
urgent requirements for heavy bridg- 
ing arose, and the demand steadily in- 
creased as the Allied advance reached 
the Durance, Rhone, Drome, Doubs, 
and Saone rivers. Again the problem 
of rescheduling the arrival of support 
units — this time, engineer bridge 
units and equipment — proved diffi- 
cult, necessitating the use of field ex- 
pedients and the exploitation of local 
resources by engineer units to solve 
the more pressing bridging problems. 
By the end of September, U.S. Army 
engineers had constructed eighty- 
eight highway bridges, largely from 
locally available material, and had 
also erected twenty-eight Bailey 
bridges. Since Bailey bridge material 
was in short supply, these spans were 
replaced as soon as possible by heavy 



timber structures. 

Another solution to the bridging 
problem involved curtailing air 
strikes. By the end of the battle of 
Montelimar, as VI Corps was starting 
north toward Lyon, Seventh Army 
planners estimated that the MATAF- 
XII Tactical Air Force bridge destruc- 
tion program, if continued, would do 
more to slow the Allied advance than 
to impede the German withdrawal. 
Accordingly, XII Tactical Air Force 
and Seventh Army agreed that after 
28 August bridge strikes would cease 
along the Rhone and Saone river val- 
leys as well as on the streams to the 
east. Thereafter the tactical air com- 
mand conducted only limited oper- 
ations against bridges, directing most 
of its strikes west of the Rhone-Saone 
line along the main routes of with- 
drawal of the LXIV Corps from west- 
ern France into the Dijon salient. 5 

Rations 

While no American or French 
troops suffered from malnutrition 
during the drive north, supplying full 
rations to the forward units became 
an occasional problem that first devel- 
oped early in the over-the-beach 
supply phase. Again the general 
transportation shortage was the main 
culprit, although the fact that ammu- 
nition and defensive materials had 
been loaded on top of rations on 
many cargo vessels of the assault con- 
voys also impeded the timely dis- 
charge of food. In fact, such loading, 
undertaken in accordance with the 
combat-heavy concept, served to com- 



5 For material on air strikes against bridges, see 
AAF III, pp. 434-35. 



SUPPORTING THE CAMPAIGN 



209 



plicate beach operations, because am- 
munition and defensive material had 
to be hurried ashore in order to 
obtain rations. This practice led to 
some helter-skelter stockpiling at the 
beaches and further slowed beach 
clearance, especially when it became 
necessary to hand-sort ammunition 
and other supplies. In the end, many 
units, as during the battle of Monteli- 
mar, had to exist on short rations 
from time to time — two K-rations per 
day as opposed to the normal three — 
while other packaged rations were 
often unavailable. 

Through the first month and a half 
of the campaign, both the Seventh 
Army and the First French Army had 
to depend primarily on packaged ra- 
tions. Local procurement could do 
nothing to ease the problem, for most 
of the area to the north as far as Lyon 
was not self-sufficient in basic food- 
stuffs. In fact, a general food shortage 
existed in southern France, and what 
little local surplus could be rounded 
up was urgently needed for civilian 
consumption. German "requisition- 
ing" during the withdrawal further 
complicated the problem, and, until 
transportation links could be set up 
with major food-producing areas, a 
shortage of fresh food persisted in 
southern France. To remedy the situ- 
ation, the entire schedule of ship- 
ments of civilian relief supplies was 
moved up, but little could be done 
immediately to improve distribution 
on the mainland. Meanwhile, a few 
lucky soldiers occasionally received 
donations of fresh eggs or other food 
from French farmers; other troops il- 
legally purchased fresh food either 
from farmers or from a rapidly devel- 
oping black market. 



From their own supply system, 
American combat troops received no 
fresh bread until 26 September. By 
the end of September only 5,000 tons 
of cold storage space was available in 
southern France. No reefer trucks or 
railroad cars had yet arrived, and by 
the month's end legal fresh meat was 
still unavailable. 

At least one unit — the headquarters 
of the 55th Ordnance Group sta- 
tioned at Bourgoin, some twenty 
miles southeast of Lyon — solved its 
fresh food problem in a highly ques- 
tionable manner. Somehow, during 
the week following the capture of 
Lyon on 3 September, the 55th Ord- 
nance Group slipped two trucks 
loaded with war souvenirs across the 
Rhone and headed north through no- 
man's-land (some German troops, 
mostly stragglers, were still trying to 
reach Dijon) to make trading contacts 
with elements of the U.S. Third 
Army. After a risky three-day trip, the 
two trucks returned to Bourgoin 
loaded with fresh beef and pork, 
candy, tobacco products, and pack- 
aged rations of types not yet available 
to most Seventh Army's forward 
units. 6 

Manpower 

U.S. Army replacement activities in 
southern France were the responsibil- 
ity of Col. Wilbur G. Dockum, com- 
manding the 2d Replacement Depot, 
which had previously operated in 



6 This incident is described in Lida Mayo, The Ord- 
nance Department: On Beachhead and Battlefront, United 
States Army in World War II (Washington, 1968), 
pp. 289-90. 



210 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



Italy. 7 The first components of the 
depot — one replacement company for 
each of VI Corps' three divisions — 
began landing on D-day and were 
ashore with 1,800 replacements by 18 
August. By 9 September the 2d Re- 
placement Depot had brought into 
southern France approximately 
13,900 replacements of all specialties, 
including troops designated as RTUs 
(returned to unit), personnel being 
returned to their previous units. 

Like most other units, the 2d Re- 
placement Depot suffered from an 
acute lack of transportation. For ex- 
ample, two of the first three replace- 
ment companies ashore had to leave 
their vehicles and most of their equip- 
ment behind in Italy. These two units 
(with a total of 1,200 replacements), 
had to march on foot, mostly at night, 
northward behind the divisions they 
supported. When the companies 
reached forward divisional supply 
dumps, they sent replacements 
onward aboard divisional trucks carry- 
ing rations to the front. Ultimately, 
Colonel Dockum was able to secure 
fifty trucks from stationary antiaircraft 
units, and he used the railroads as 
much as possible; but his transporta- 
tion problem was by no means solved 
as of mid-September. 

By mid-September the 2d Replace- 
ment Depot had in France twelve re- 
placement companies under four re- 
placement battalion headquarters. 
The depot headquarters itself set up 
near Grenoble; and, except for one 
battalion headquarters and four re- 
placement companies left in the 



'For information on replacements, see Norton 
MS, "History of the Replacement Command NA- 
TOUSA," II, ch. 2 and Annex I, CMH. 




"The Long and the Short and the 
Tall": 70th Quartermaster Base Depot 
stocks. 

beach and port area, all components 
of the depot were well forward. By 
the end of September only one re- 
placement company, at Marseille, was 
left in the rear area. 

Since the casualty rate in southern 
France was lower than expected, no 
critical replacement problems arose, 
although a shortage of infantry re- 
placements had begun to affect VI 
Corps by mid-September. The ab- 
sence of any major replacement prob- 
lem is demonstrated by the fact that 
1,800 replacements due in on D plus 
30 were not urgently needed, and the 
group was combined with another ar- 
riving on D plus 35. 

Of the 13,900 replacements and 



SUPPORTING THE CAMPAIGN 



211 



RTUs that had reached southern 
France by mid-September, less than 
4,000 were assigned to the Seventh 
Army, leaving a balance of about 
9,500 troops available in the replace- 
ment system. The 13,900 total did 
not include about 500 RTUs sent di- 
rectly to their units without being ac- 
counted for in the replacement flow, 
nor approximately 5,100 rotational 
replacements, that is, troops replacing 
men rotated to the United States on 
leave or on temporary duty elsewhere 
(most of whom never returned to the 
theater). Thus, by mid-September 
some 19,500 U.S. Army replacements 
from all categories had landed in 
southern France. Most of these troops 
were not needed to replace casualties, 
but were employed to flesh out 
units — such as the 45th Division and 
many service organizations — that had 
arrived in France understrength. 

The French had their own replace- 
ment system, but relatively few of 
their replacements came from North 
Africa or Italy. Instead, French Army 
units absorbed FFI personnel by the 
thousands, either individually or by 
unit. The result complicated logistical 
problems, for French commanders 
were soon submitting requisitions for 
rations and equipment that far out- 
stripped their authorized require- 
ments. In addition, the politico-mili- 
tary character of the resistance made 
the incorporation of some FFI organi- 
zations into the armed forces a politi- 
cal as well as a military matter for the 
French command. 

Medical Support 

The story of medical support in 
southern France was like that of other 



support activities, with the Seventh 
Army's rapid drive north upsetting 
carefully laid plans and schedules. 8 
During D-day, three separate medical 
battalions began coming ashore, and 
each one supplied a collecting compa- 
ny and a clearing platoon to reinforce 
the organic medical battalions of VI 
Corps' three divisions. Three 400-bed 
evacuation hospitals, each supporting 
a division, were operational by 19 
August, the same day that the first 
U.S. Army nurses arrived in southern 
France. 

Moving the evacuation hospitals 
forward behind the supported divi- 
sions proved difficult, for frequent 
changes of location created the inevi- 
table transportation problems. Having 
arrived in France without all their au- 
thorized transportation, medical units 
had to borrow trucks and use ambu- 
lances to move their equipment, and 
even then they found it difficult to 
keep up with the combat units. For 
example, the evacuation hospital sup- 
porting the 3d Division closed down 
near Avignon on 7 September, but 
then had to wait ten days to obtain 
enough transportation to move north 
to the Besancon area. Likewise, part 
of the 2d Convalescent Hospital 
reached Besancon on 17 September, 
but the rest of the unit had to remain 
at Marseille, where its organic trans- 
portation was diverted to general 
supply operations. Meanwhile, the 
lengthy lines of communication 
caused forward area hospitals to 
become overcrowded and evacuation 



8 Additional information on medical support de- 
rives from Charles M. Wiltse, The Medical Department: 
Medical Service in the Mediterranean and Minor Theaters, 
United States Army in World War II (Washington, 
1965), pp. 370-411. 



212 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



hospitals to hold patients for ex- 
tended periods of time-. 

Fixed-bed hospitals, totaling 14,250 
beds, were not scheduled to begin ar- 
riving until 25 September. When de- 
ployed ahead of schedule, they also 
faced the familiar transportation prob- 
lems. The 36th General Hospital, for 
example, started unloading on 9 Sep- 
tember, but could not open at Aix-en- 
Provence until the 17th. Similarly, the 
46th General Hospital reached France 
on 8 September, but was not oper- 
ational at Besancon until the 20th. 

On D-day, casualties were evacuat- 
ed by LST to Corsica, from where se- 
rious cases were flown to Naples. 
Hospital ships arrived on D plus 1, 
and through 21 August transported 
all patients to Naples. Thereafter, 
hospital ships carrying predominently 
French patients sailed to Oran in 
North Africa. But after the fall of 
Toulon and Marseille, French casual- 
ties remained in the metropole. This 
change, together with the initiation of 
air evacuation to Italy on 22 August, 
the low combat casualty rate, and the 
accelerated buildup of medical facili- 
ties in France, made it unnecessary to 
employ hospital ships after 30 
August. As more medical facilities 
became available and as weather con- 
ditions worsened in mid-September, 
air evacuation steadily diminished. 

Through the end of September, 
U.S. Army hospitals in southern 
France admitted roughly 20,775 
American troops. Of this total, 160 
men died in hospitals, 8,380 were 
evacuated to Italy or North Africa, 
8,525 were returned to duty, and, at 
month's end, 3,710 were still in vari- 
ous hospitals in France. 

During the first month or so of the 



campaign no unusual medical prob- 
lems arose. Neuropsychiatric (combat 
fatigue) cases were of little moment 
during the first month ashore, but by 
mid-September bad weather, stiffen- 
ing resistance, and tiring troops com- 
bined to begin a marked increase in 
the rate of such cases among combat 
units. By the end of September trench 
foot was beginning to develop as a 
significant problem, one largely 
brought about by increasingly wet 
and cold weather as well as by some 
shortages of suitable clothing and 
equipment. 

Signal Support 

Like the Medical Corps, the Signal 
Corps had its problems with transpor- 
tation and in supporting the Seventh 
Army's rapid advance. 9 The general 
truck shortage forced signal units to 
overload communications vehicles 
with their own supplies, but they still 
found that moving wire, batteries, and 
radio tubes forward to support 
combat forces was difficult. 

The pace of Seventh Army's 
progress also made it futile to employ 
even the most advanced techniques of 
rapid pole setting and wire stringing. 
Instead, until mid-September, the 
Signal Corps devoted its efforts to re- 
habilitating about 1,715 miles of 
French wire, while stringing no more 
than 150 miles of its own. Fortunately, 
most of the area over which the Sev- 



9 Additional material on Signal Corps problems 
comes from George Raynor Thompson and Dixie R. 
Harris, The Signal Corps: The Outcome (Mid- 194 3 
Through 1945), United States Army in World War II 
(Washington, 1966), pp. 130-31. 



SUPPORTING THE CAMPAIGN 



213 



enth Army traveled after Montelimar 
was well-suited to radio, communica- 
tions. However, as the combat units 
moved into more rugged terrain 
during the latter part of September, 
radio communications had to yield to 
wire for both telephone and teletype 
circuits. By the end of the month no 
critical wire shortages had yet devel- 
oped, but the demands for wire were 
beginning to exceed expectations. As 
was the case for almost all other com- 
modities, forward shipment of Signal 
Corps supplies had already been re- 
scheduled. 

Another shortage that stemmed 
from the Seventh Army's rapid pene- 
tration concerned maps. As early as D 
plus 5, many units of the VI Corps 
had begun to advance beyond the 
area covered by the large-scale 
(1:25,000 and 1:50,000) tactical maps 
they had brought ashore. By 19 
August Task Force Butler was operat- 
ing mainly with 1:200,000 tourist 
guide maps, while during the battle of 
Montelimar most units had to maneu- 
ver on the basis of 1:100,000 U.S. 
Army maps. Before the end of August 
enough 1:100,000 maps were avail- 
able, but as of late September the 
supply of the more desirable 1:50,000 
maps was still inadequate. 

Air Support 

General Saville's XII Tactical Air 
Command (TAC), which was respon- 
sible for supporting Allied ground 
operations in southern France, initial- 
ly had under its command 38 squad- 
rons of aircraft, all based on Corsica, 
including 19 fighter-bomber (P-47), 4 
light bomber (A-20), and 4 recon- 



naissance squadrons. 10 Until 20 
August the XII TAC also had under 
its control 6 A-20 light bomber 
squadrons from the Fifteenth Air 
Force, while 7 British and 2 American 
escort carriers (CVEs) provided rein- 
forcement with 72 more combat air- 
craft. The British CVEs withdrew on 
27 August; the American carriers on 
the 29th. Heavy bombers of the Medi- 
terranean Allied Strategic Air Force, 
which had played a major role in 
preassault bombardment, flew their 
last missions over southern France on 
16 August, D plus 1. Mediterranean 
Allied Tactical Air Force (MATAF) 
medium bombers — two wings of B- 
25s and B-26s supported by two 
groups of P-38 fighters — from Sar- 
dinia and Corsica were available 
through 29 August to support the XII 
TAC, but they normally operated out- 
side the XII TAC's area of responsi- 
bility. This area initially ran from the 
Rhone River east to the Alpine divide 
and from the coast north to the Isere 
River, flowing into the Rhone from 
the northeast near Valence. 

The Seventh Army's rapid penetra- 
tion also had a serious impact on 
Allied air support. By 28 August, co- 
incident with the decision to halt the 
MATAF and XII TAC bridge-destruc- 
tion program, few lucrative targets 
could be found in southern France 
within range of MATAFs medium 



10 The XII Tactical Air Command strength con- 
sisted of the following: 15 USAAF P-47 fighter- 
bomber squadrons, 1 1 RAF Spitfire fighter squad- 
rons, 4 USAAF A-20 light bomber squadrons, 3 
FAF P-47 fighter-bomber squadrons, 1 RAF Beau- 
fighter night-fighter squadron, .1 USAAF P-51 tacti- 
cal reconnaissance squadron, 1 FAF Spitfire tactical 
reconnaissance squadron, 1 RAF Spitfire tactical re- 
connaissance squadron, and 1 USAAF P-38 photo- 
reconnaissance squadron. 



214 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



bombers, and the mediums ceased 
operations over the area after the 
28th. The XII TAC, taking over re- 
sponsibility for all air support in 
southern France, faced its own range 
problems. The command moved 
three P-47 groups and a reconnais- 
sance squadron to France during the 
period 23-29 August, but by the 28th 
one group was already complaining 
that its airfield in the coastal sector 
was out of range of the forward 
combat zone. By the same date virtu- 
ally all targets in France, except for a 
few German troop columns west of 
the Rhone, were beyond the range of 
XII TAC air bases on Corsica. As of 3 
September the XII TAC had airfields 
operational as far north as Valence, 
and during the period 6-15 Septem- 
ber the command's units in France 
moved up to fields in the Lyon area, 
within range of the Seventh Army's 
front lines. But this force still repre- 
sented less than half of the XII TAC's 
original strength. 

The demands of the Italian cam- 
paign also reduced the availability of 
air support in southern France. For 
example, on 20 August MATAF had 
to divert two P-38 fighter groups 
(used over France primarily for 
bomber escort duties) to operations 
in Italy, while on 21 and 22 August 
all MATAF medium bombers allocat- 
ed to support ground operations in 
France were diverted to Italy. Re- 
quirements in Italy, range problems, 
and weather further limited the XII 
TAC's operations over France. 
During the week of 23-29 August XII 
TAC's interdiction sorties were split 
almost evenly between France and 
Italy, and during the period 1-14 
September the XII TAC flew 1,045 



interdiction sorties over Italy, as op- 
posed to 946 over France. The sorties 
over Italy included some flown by XII 
TAC planes based in the coastal 
sector of southern France, out of 
range of the Seventh Army's front. 

The tactical air units in France 
faced supply and transportation prob- 
lems similar to those of the ground 
forces, with transportation shortages 
again creating the most difficulties. 
The supply of air ordnance, especially 
at forward area fields, was rarely ade- 
quate, while transportation shortages 
further slowed the forward movement 
of both XII TAC units and airfield 
construction equipment. The trans- 
portation difficulties were complicat- 
ed by the constant requirement to 
push units northward, which in turn 
reduced the availability of timely air 
support. Fortunately, the bomb 
supply problem did not become criti- 
cal, since strafing missions proved 
more appropriate for most air sup- 
port operations in southern France, 
especially after the fall of Toulon and 
Marseille. Of the 1,045 interdiction 
sorties that XII TAC pilots flew over 
Italy during the period 1-14 Septem- 
ber, 1,021 were bombing missions. In 
contrast, the 946 sorties over France 
during the same period consisted of 
673 strafing and 273 bombing mis- 
sions. 

On 15 September control of the 
XII TAC passed from MATAF to the 
U.S. Ninth Air Force, based in north- 
ern France. At the same time, the XII 
TAC lost control over the units that 
had remained on Corsica, mostly Brit- 
ish fighter squadrons; and these 
forces, together with the MATAF 
units originally allocated to the sup- 
port of Anvil, moved to Italy. 



SUPPORTING THE CAMPAIGN 



215 



Close Air Support 

Perhaps the most remarkable fea- 
ture of air operations in the southern 
France campaign was the total ab- 
sence of normal close air support ac- 
tivities involving the use of air-ground 
liaison teams — or at least forward air 
observers in light aircraft, conducting 
air strikes in direct support of ground 
combat units. However, with the 
problems of range, airfield prepara- 
tion, and continuous redeployments, 
the XII TAC could not respond effec- 
tively to direct support requests from 
tactical units. By the time aircraft 
were able to arrive on the battlefield 
at the proper location, the tactical sit- 
uation had often changed and the tar- 
gets were no longer present. 

Because of these difficulties, the 
XII TAC limited its direct support to 
area concentrations using simple 
bomb-line methods, a system whereby 
aircraft bombed or strafed just for- 
ward of a map line that marked the 
forward elements of the Allied 
ground units. To be effective, the line 
obviously had to be changed continu- 
ously; furthermore, the process took 
considerable time and occasioned 
some argument between ground and 
air commanders. Often bomb lines 
were so far from the ground combat 
front that bombing or strafing mis- 
sions were of no direct help to the 
ground forces. At other times the 
ground combat units had to be cau- 
tious about exploiting a drive for fear 
of overrunning the bomb line, thus 
exposing themselves to strikes from 
their own air support. Toward mid- 
September the VI Corps staff made 
arrangements with the air command 
to close the distance between the 



bomb line and the infantry's front 
line, but the improvement was one of 
degree rather than kind. 

The problem was brought home 
most forcefully during the battle at 
Montelimar. Before the Allied build- 
up there, the XII TAC had achieved 
excellent results in bombing and 
strafing German columns moving up 
the Rhone valley from Avignon north 
across the Drome River. But estab- 
lishing bomb lines after 20 August in 
the Montelimar area greatly restricted 
the use of Allied air power along 
Route N-7, the main Rhone highway, 
and provided the American tactical 
commander with little assistance once 
the situation on the ground became 
fluid. For example, during the 
German breakthroughs in the Bonlieu 
area it was impossible for ground 
force commanders to obtain air sup- 
port, because Bonlieu lay south and 
east of the existing bomb line. With- 
out better air support methods, the 
XII TAC was forced to concentrate 
on targets west of the Rhone and 
north of the Drome, all well outside 
the immediate ground battlefield; 
meanwhile the ground commanders 
would doubtlessly have preferred a 
few tactical air strikes against German 
infantry and armor in the Hill 300 
and Bonlieu areas. 

Lacking any arrangements or capa- 
bilities for providing true close air 
support, XII TAC operations were 
devoted almost entirely to interdic- 
tion sorties against retreating German 
columns well forward of the Seventh 
Army's ground front (and, until about 
10 September, against LXIV Corps' 
columns west of the Rhone). But even 
these operations became more limited 
in scope and number as weather con- 



216 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



ditions began to deteriorate toward 
mid-September. 

Despite these difficulties, both XII 
TAC and the attached MATAF bomb- 
ers performed their interdiction mis- 
sions successfully, destroying large 
quantities of German equipment, dis- 
persing German troop columns, and 
retarding German deployments. How- 
ever, that interdiction program could 
not by itself prevent the movement of 
the Nineteenth Army northward, and 
Allied airpower failed to influence 
significantly the outcome of any 
single ground engagement, except 
perhaps at Toulon and Marseille. The 
campaign in southern France thus 
convincingly demonstrated that inter- 
diction operations cannot substitute 
for true close air support, which 
might have supplied the firepower 
needed by ground units when other 
support assets were lacking. 

Civil Affairs 

Civil Affairs (CA) operations are ef- 
forts conducted by a military com- 
mand to ensure the safety and well- 
being of the civilian population in its 
area of operation. These measures 
are based on the legal and humanitar- 
ian obligations of the command. 11 Re- 
sponsibility for conducting CA oper- 
ations in southern France was vested 
in AFHQ, which delegated most of its 
CA responsibilities to Seventh Army, 



11 The civil affairs section is based on Harry L. 
Coles and Albert K. Weinberg, Civil Affairs: Soldiers 
Become Governors, U.S. Army in World War II (Wash- 
ington, 1964), pp. 697-706, 751-92; Seventh Army 
Rpt, I, 69-70; CONRAD History, pp. 48-50; Robert 
W. Komer, CMH MS, "Civil Affairs and Military 
Government in the Mediterranean Theater," ch. 21; 
and miscellaneous documents and reports of the 
AColS G-5 Seventh Army. 



while retaining technical supervision 
of the effort. Since the forces in 
southern France were ultimately to 
pass to SHAEF control, CA plans and 
operations in southern France had to 
be carefully attuned with those in the 
north; AFHQ, and the Seventh Army 
thus closely modeled their CA direc- 
tives after those of SHAEF. In both 
the north and the south, the Allies es- 
tablished no military government. 
Rather, local French civilian agencies 
conducted and controlled the civil ad- 
ministration within France, except for 
matters concerning Allied military se- 
curity. The principal Allied CA contri- 
butions were in the fields of supply 
and coordination. 

Within the Seventh Army, two offi- 
cers controlled CA activities, Col. 
Harvey S. Gerry, the Seventh Army 
G-5 staff officer, and Col. Henry 
Parkman, Jr., who was the senior offi- 
cer of Civil Affairs Headquarters, Sev- 
enth Army (CAHQ). Gerry was the 
adviser to General Patch on all CA 
matters, and monitored and coordi- 
nated CA field operations in southern 
France. In the field, CA operations 
came under the control of Parkman, 
who was both Chief Civil Affairs Offi- 
cer, Seventh Army, and the com- 
manding officer of the 2678th Civil 
Affairs Regiment, the headquarters of 
which functioned as CAHQ. The 
2678th CA Regiment had an initial 
authorization of 196 officers and 398 
enlisted men. Planners estimated that 
this strength would prove unneces- 
sary during early operations in south- 
ern France, and so 50 officers and 75 
enlisted men were temporarily re- 
turned to Italy, only to be quickly re- 
called when the Seventh Army V unex- 
pectedly rapid advance increased the 



SUPPORTING THE CAMPAIGN 



217 



need for CA personnel. The com- 
mand was thus at full strength in 
France by the end of September. 

Ostensibly, CAHQ and the CA 
regiment's component teams and de- 
tachments operated under broad poli- 
cies established by the Seventh Army 
G-5, but CAHQhad a technical chan- 
nel of communications to G-5 AFHQ, 
and sometimes received orders direct- 
ly from this headquarters. Colonel 
Gerry at Seventh Army headquarters 
complained that CAHQ, also estab- 
lished policy on its own initiative, 
while Colonel Parkman at CAHQ felt 
that the Seventh Army G-5 some- 
times unduly intruded into field oper- 
ations. Inevitably, discord arose be- 
tween the two staffs, and the prob- 
lems were not entirely solved until 
both policy and operational responsi- 
bilities became centralized under the 
6th Army Group's G-5 late in Sep- 
tember. Even before that time, the 
AFHQ G-5 had to take an active CA 
coordinating role in southern France 
in order to tie Seventh Army's civil af- 
fairs activities forward of the Army's 
rear boundary to those of logistical 
agencies south of the boundary. 

Civil Affairs Operations 

Despite some conflicts of interest 
and divided responsibilities, direct 
military control of civil activities was 
limited. As the Allies expected, local 
French civilian government officials 
were quickly able to reestablish the 
civil administration necessary to 
handle the distribution of relief sup- 
plies that CAHQ, furnished through 
Allied military channels. So rapid and 
thorough was the turnover to the 



French that CA teams and detach- 
ments of the 2678th CA Regiment 
were quickly eliminated in favor of 
small liaison offices with French gov- 
ernmental agencies in key geographi- 
cal locations. This transition also re- 
flected basic U.S. Army CA doctrine. 

In the field, CA operations in 
southern France represented an 
Allied effort carried out by American, 
British, and French military person- 
nel. SHAEF supplied many of the 
American and British personnel, while 
other American troops, experienced 
in military government, came from 
Italy. The First French Army provided 
CA liaison officers for Seventh Army's 
combat units, CAHOJs various de- 
tachments or offices, and French local 
governmental agencies. As the French 
were unable to supply enough of 
these liaison officers, all those as- 
signed were markedly overworked for 
the first month or so of CA oper- 
ations in southern France. 

Food, CA planners estimated, 
would be the principal civil relief ne- 
cessity in the Anvil assault area, 
which was a deficit food-producing 
region. Nevertheless, the combat- 
heavy loading concept for early con- 
voys prompted planners to delay 
major CA food imports until the D 
plus 40 convoy. Preassault plans 
called for three Liberty ships (or the 
equivalent) full of CA supplies to 
reach southern France in five-day in- 
crements with the convoys from D 
plus 40 through D plus 80. Initially, 
relief supplies were to come from the- 
ater stockpiles, with the French fur- 
nishing edible oils from North Africa. 
Later shipments were to arrive direct- 
ly from the United States. 

The Seventh Army's rapid drive 



218 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



northward created the same problems 
for CA units and personnel that faced 
all logistical support agencies in 
southern France. Although it was ob- 
vious that the scheduled arrival of CA 
personnel, supplies, and transporta- 
tion could not cope with require- 
ments, accelerating the arrival of CA 
troops and, to a lesser extent, sup- 
plies proved difficult. Emergency food 
supplies, hastily loaded as additional 
cargo on ships from Italy and North 
Africa, began arriving on D plus 10; 
and the first civil relief Liberty ship 
began unloading over a St. Tropez 
gulf beach on 10 September (D plus 
25 as opposed to the original sched- 
ule of D plus 40). By the end of Sep- 
tember approximately 35,000 tons of 
food earmarked for civil relief had 
reached southern France. 

Meanwhile, CA officials on the 
ground helped alleviate the more se- 
rious distribution problems, assisting, 
for example, in organizing and dis- 
tributing food stocks taken from the 
Germans and other stocks that the 
FFI had secretly assembled. Seventh 
Army resources were normally used 
only in an emergency, or when the 
American units had excess supplies, 
labor, or transport. Although CA per- 
sonnel were reluctant to tax the hard- 
pressed U.S. logistical agencies 
during the first part of the campaign 
and were able to obtain most necessi- 
ties from local French sources, the 
Seventh Army did release 100,000 
cans of condensed milk and about 
3,450 pounds of dried milk from its 
own stocks to meet a critical milk 
shortage among small children in the 
coastal areas. 

Transportation required for effec- 
tive CA relief operations remained 



critical through September. Neither 
the Seventh Army nor the logistical 
agencies could provide many trucks, 
and, for purely tactical reasons, the 
Seventh Army sometimes found it 
necessary to retain control of trucks 
allocated to CA activities. In other 
areas, a lack of coordination ham- 
pered the most effective use of avail- 
able transportation for CA purposes. 
For example, although the Allies 
found a general surplus of food in the 
Lyon region, it was hard to arrange 
transportation to move foodstuffs 
south; often empty truck convoys and 
later empty trains moved back to the 
beaches and ports with their capacity 
for moving food to the coastal region 
unused. The problem was not solved 
until enough CA officials were avail- 
able in the forward area to coordinate 
the movement of food stocks south 
with Army transportation units and 
commands. 

The Nice-Cannes area, east of the 
assault beaches, was an especially 
troublesome region. Here, at the end 
of transportation lines, near famine 
conditions existed for some time, 
compounded by FFI and Allied troop 
misconduct such as looting and rob- 
bery. The disorderly conditions were 
largely under control by mid-Septem- 
ber, but Nice especially remained a 
hungry area until well toward the end 
of September. 

Nice was also a center of black 
market activities, which plagued CA 
agencies throughout the coastal area. 
American troops were guilty of con- 
tributing to black market operations, 
for even common army supplies (es- 
pecially rations) as well as Post Ex- 
change items brought high prices. By 
the end of September the black 



SUPPORTING THE CAMPAIGN 



219 



market was generally under control at 
Toulon, but remained significant at 
Marseille and Nice despite the best 
efforts of CA personnel, in conjunc- 
tion with other concerned American 
and French agencies, to contain it. 
The port of Marseille became infa- 
mous as a center of traffic in stolen 
and pilfered goods, and some officials 
estimated that for a time roughly 20 
percent of all supplies unloaded at 
the port were subsequently stolen. 
Here and elsewhere the theft of gaso- 
line became a major problem, and 
contributed significantly to the Sev- 
enth Army's POL shortages. 

Outside of food and transportation, 
the only major civil relief shortage in- 
volved certain types of medical sup- 
plies. Food and medical supply defi- 
ciencies were largely overcome before 
the end of September, while other 
relief problems did not materialize on 
the scale expected by CA planners. 
The rehabilitation of civilian commu- 
nication and power facilities proved a 
much easier task than initially estimat- 
ed; no significant problems with refu- 
gees or displaced persons developed; 
and clothing shortages were localized 
and overcome without undue trouble. 
Hospitals, hospital equipment (except 
for some medical supplies), and civil- 
ian medical personnel were generally 
adequate; school buildings were un- 
damaged, although teacher shortages 
existed. 

Like logistical support activities in 
southern France, CA operations 
through the end of September consti- 
tuted a shoestring success, achieved 
after somewhat hectic beginnings. But 
the successful Allied CA effort would 
not have been possible without the 
universal and wholehearted coopera- 



tion of French civilian officials and 
agencies. 

Conclusions 

In summary, logistical constraints 
severely limited operations of the 
Seventh Army, the XII TAC, and 
many other Allied units and agencies 
through late September. The unex- 
pectedly rapid and deep Allied pene- 
tration was the direct cause of most of 
these problems, while a theaterwide 
scarcity of service units and an unan- 
ticipated shortage of French civilian 
labor, especially at the beach and port 
areas, were contributing factors. 
Commanders and planners at all 
levels did their best to overcome 
these difficulties, but the lack of vehi- 
cles and fuel was felt throughout the 
campaign. Using captured German 
supplies and stripping vehicles from 
ancillary units were only short-term 
solutions, which were sometimes 
achieved at the cost of overworking 
the few troops and equipment that 
were available. Only the vigorous 
Allied pursuit and the German pell- 
mell withdrawal northward prevented 
the logistical situation from being 
more detrimental to the expanding 
Allied campaign. 

Basic to the whole issue of logistical 
support was the planning concept. 
The expectation of a strong, protract- 
ed German resistance and possibly 
major German counterattacks in 
southern France proved incorrect. 
With hindsight, the Seventh Army 
planners might have anticipated that 
Army Group G would be more interest- 
ed in withdrawing its forces north- 
ward intact than in defending the 



220 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



beaches and ports of southern France 
to the last man. Thus, overly conserv- 
ative intelligence estimates had an ob- 
vious impact on logistical planning, 
loading, and scheduling. The result- 
ing combat-heavy loading program 
for both assault and early follow-up 
convoys left little or no room for lo- 
gistical flexibility once the situation 
ashore turned out differently than ex- 
pected. The shortage of shipping, es- 
pecially amphibious vessels, also re- 
duced logistical flexibility as did the 
decision to accelerate the arrival of 
French combat units. Efforts to 
change unit and shipping schedules 
turned out to be only partially suc- 
cessful since many support units and 
much cargo were locked in to preas- 
sault schedules. The air units were 
subject to the same planning con- 
straints. From their bases in Corsica 
they were prepared to support a 
lengthy battle on a carefully defined 
beachhead, but were ill-equipped for 
more mobile operations on the main- 
land. 



Yet, given the complicated nature 
of amphibious operations and the pri- 
orities of the Allied high command, 
especially the precedence given to the 
Overlord forces in northern France, 
the Anvil planners probably did the 
best they could with the means avail- 
able. And while the Seventh Army 
may have rated German capabilities 
too high, the Allied armies would find 
in the months ahead that the German 
defenders would not always retreat so 
rapidly, even when their manpower 
and materiel situation indicated that 
withdrawal was the wisest course of 
action. In short, Hitler and OKW 
might easily have taken a completely 
different course of action, ordering 
the Nineteenth Army to defend in place 
and reinforcing it with units from 
western France and Italy. Had this 
been the case, the Allied combat- 
heavy logistical loading would have 
seemed a wise decision, and any pro- 
posal to structure the Anvil assault 
force for a more mobile campaign 
highly premature. 



PART THREE 
ORDEAL IN THE VOSGES 



CHAPTER XII 



Strategy and Operations 



While Truscott's divisions wheeled 
toward the Belfort Gap, de Monsa- 
bert's French II Corps, on the Seventh 
Army's western flank, had continued 
north toward Dijon, periodically de- 
layed by fuel shortages. The French 
northern drive from Lyon had been op- 
posed ineffectively by a medley of odd- 
sized German forces — Groups Brow- 
dowski, Taeglichsbeck, and Ottenbacher and 
what was left of Group Bauer and the 
716th Infantry Division, all under the oc- 
casional supervision of the LXIV Corps 
in the south and the LXVI Corps in the 
north. On 1 1 September the French 1st 
Armored Division rolled into Dijon un- 
opposed and, scarcely pausing to join 
the celebration of the city's populace, 
headed north for Langres, about forty 
miles farther. Approximately fifteen 
miles to the west, the French 1st Infan- 
try Division matched its pace, moving 
north and northeast led by the 13th 
Foreign Legion Demibrigade, the 2d 
Dragoons (tank destroyers), and the 
1st Naval Fusiliers. Intermittently 
throughout the day both of de Monsa- 
bert's divisions had telephone contact 
over local lines with the French 2d Ar- 
mored Division, part of Patton's U.S. 
Third Army that had already reached 
Chatillon-sur-Seine. Finally, later in 
the afternoon of the 11th, the 2d Dra- 



goons met a small patrol from the U.S. 
6th Armored Division at Saulieu, 
twenty-five miles north of Autun, 
which formally marked the physical 
union of the Overlord and Anvil 
armies in northern France. As the II 
Corps moved east, the French and 
American forces cemented the junc- 
ture between Dijon and Chatillon, 
giving the Allied armies in France a 
common front from the English Chan- 
nel in the north to the Mediterranean 
in the south. The time had now come 
to implement existing plans that would 
unify the Allied command structure in 
France and place the Allied forces from 
southern France under Eisenhower's 
SHAEF command. Henceforth Sev- 
enth Army's operations would conform 
to strategic and operational concepts 
determined by SHAEF for the prosecu- 
tion of the war against Germany. The 
"champagne campaign" was officially 
over. 

SHAEF "s Operational Concepts 

Patch's approval on 3 September of 
Truscott's plan for a concerted VI 
Corps drive on the Belfort Gap, with 
the French divisions of Army B split 
between the attacking American forces, 
was a purely opportunistic measure 



224 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



that only temporarily altered the Sev- 
enth Army's general .campaign plans. 
Whatever the results of Truscott's 
drive, Patch fully intended to imple- 
ment the deployment concept he had 
promulgated late in August — concen- 
trating de Lattre's French forces on the 
Seventh Army's right and Truscott's VI 
Corps on the left. The VI Corps was 
then to advance northeast across the 
Vosges Mountains to Strasbourg and 
the Rhine, while the French divisions 
would push through the Belfort Gap to 
the Alsatian plains. 1 General Eisen- 
hower himself had outlined this de- 
ployment plan as the Seventh Army 
moved toward Lyon, and it had been 
approved by General Wilson as well as 
by General Devers, the commander- 
designate of the 6th Army Group. 
Shortly thereafter Eisenhower and 
Devers confirmed the concept during 
coordinating conferences at SHAEF 
headquarters between 4 and 6 Septem- 
ber. 2 

Eisenhower had always held that 
command of the Anvil forces should 
be transferred to SHAEF soon after 
the Seventh Army started moving in 
strength north of Lyon, an advance 
VI Corps had initiated on 3 Septem- 
ber. The date of transfer received 
consideration during the 4-6 Septem- 
ber conferences, and on the 9th, after 
additional long-distance consultation, 
AFHQ, and SHAEF finally agreed that 



'Seventh Army FO 3 and 4, 25 and 28 Aug 44. 

2 The planning sections are based on the follow- 
ing sources: Seventh Army Rpt, I, 279-86, 327-32; 
Cole, The Lorraine Campaign, pp. 1-13, 20-25, 52-56; 
Charles B. MacDonald, The Siegfried Line Campaign, 
United States Army in World War II (Washington, 
1973), chs. 1 and 2; Truscott, Command Missions, pp. 
441-44; Pogue, The Supreme Command, pp. 228-29, 
249-56, 265-66, 288-98; Seventh Army Diary, Aug- 
Sep 44. 



Eisenhower would assume operational 
control of the forces in southern 
France on 15 September. At that time 
Headquarters, 6th Army Group, 
would become operational in south- 
ern France, and simultaneously con- 
trol of the XII Tactical Air Command 
would pass from the Twelfth to the 
Ninth Air Force. 

Eisenhower, Wilson, and Devers 
agreed that the transfer of operational 
responsibility need not wait until 
SHAEF assumed logistical and admin- 
istrative control except in the field of 
civil affairs. At the time, SHAEF was 
having logistical problems of consider- 
able magnitude and was in no position 
to assume the added burden of con- 
trolling logistical operations in south- 
ern France. Thus the Allied command- 
ers decided that the 6th Army Group 
would administer its own semi-inde- 
pendent logistical system through 
Mediterranean channels, using sup- 
plies arriving directly from the United 
States as well as excess stocks not 
needed in MTO reserves. 

Eisenhower and Devers also deter- 
mined that the activation of the 6th 
Army Group would be accompanied 
by the transformation of French Army 
B into the First French Army, an or- 
ganization that would be operational- 
ly, logistically, and administratively in- 
dependent of Patch's Seventh Army. 
Until more American forces became 
available, the change would leave 
Patch with little more than Truscott's 
VI Corps to control. Although Devers 
decided that Patch would continue to 
direct First French Army operations 
until the redeployment was complet- 
ed, this somewhat anomalous situa- 
tion lasted only until 19 September. 

Devers was understandably dis- 



STRATEGY AND OPERATIONS 



225 



turbed over leaving the Seventh Army 
with just a single corps. Such an un- 
derstrength army command could 
play only a minor role in future oper- 
ations against Germany. Devers, in 
fact, had been concerned by the lack 
of American strength since the begin- 
ning of Anvil. Once the landings in 
southern France were successful, he 
would have preferred transferring the 
entire U.S. Fifth Army as well as the 
rest of the Twelfth Air Force from the 
Italian to the southern France front. 
Realizing that such a large redeploy- 
ment was both politically and oper- 
ationally impossible, Devers had 
sought to have at least the Fifth 
Army's IV Corps shipped from Italy 
to southern France. But early in Sep- 
tember Wilson had blocked the move, 
convincing the CCS and the JCS that 
the transferral would ruin any chance 
for the success of operations then 
under way in Italy. Devers next re- 
quested that one of SHAEF's Ameri- 
can corps be transferred to the Sev- 
enth Army, a proposal that Wilson 
also made. At the time, Gen. Sir Ber- 
nard Montgomery's 21st Army Group 
had five corps and Lt. Gen. Omar N. 
Bradley's 12 th Army Group had 
seven. But Eisenhower stated that he 
could not spare a corps at that time 
and believed that the three fresh 
American divisions scheduled to 
arrive through southern French ports 
during October and November would 
greatly strengthen the Seventh Army, 
even if no additional corps headquar- 
ters were available. In the end, the 
6th Army Group received no rein- 
forcements, and the Seventh Army 
was left with only a single corps head- 
quarters and three infantry divisions 
in its order of battle. 



SHAEF's Operational Strategy 

General Devers, now in the process 
of assuming direct control of both the 
U.S. Seventh Army and the First 
French Army, had never commanded 
a unit on the battlefield. However, 
along with Generals Eisenhower, 
Lesley J. McNair, and Brehon B. So- 
mervell, he had been one of the prin- 
cipal officers used by General Mar- 
shall to train, equip, and direct the 
efforts of the American Army in the 
European theater. 3 As commanding 
general of ETOUSA in 1943 and of 
NATOUSA in 1944, Devers had vig- 
orously represented the views of Mar- 
shall and the JCS and knew the im- 
portance that they attached to a direct 
thrust at Germany through northern 
France. This background had given 
the new army group commander a 
good feel for the political and person- 
al dimensions of the Allied high-level 
command, an area where Patch and 
de Lattre had little experience. Now, 
as one of the major Allied field com- 
manders, the energetic and some- 
times outspoken Devers would have 
the opportunity to put his ideas and 
knowledge into action. 

Like Patch, Devers was well aware 
that realigning the Seventh and First 
French Armies was part of Eisenhow- 
er's larger plan for the use of Allied 
military power in northeastern 
France. American forces, Eisenhower 
had long since decided, would occupy 
the center of a broad Allied advance 
in northern France toward the 



German border (Map 12). For this 



3 McNair served as Commanding General, Army 
Ground Forces, and Somervell as Commanding 
General, Army Service Forces. 



226 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



reason he wanted Bradley's 12th 
Army Group in the -middle of the 
Allied line, between Montgomery's 
21st Army Group in the north and 
Devers' 6th Army Group in the south. 
In mid-September Bradley's center 
command had three armies, but only 
two were on line, the First and the 
Third, with the Ninth Army still clear- 
ing the Brittany peninsula in the west. 
Montgomery's 21st Army Group, con- 
sisting of the First Canadian and 
Second British Armies, constituted 
the left, or northern, wing of the 
Allied line, and Devers' 6th Army 
Group was its right, or southern, 
wing. The eventual arrival of the 
Ninth Army in Bradley's center and 
the redeployment of Patch's Seventh 
Army to the left of the 6th Army 
Group would complete the concentra- 
tion of American combat power in the 
center of the Allied line. 

Eisenhower would have preferred 
transferring the entire Seventh Army 
to Bradley's central army group, but 
feared that the First French Army 
might not be ready to undertake total 
responsibility for the Allied right 
wing. Moreover, without Patch's Sev- 
enth Army, the 6th Army Group's 
American contingent would have con- 
sisted of little more than some artil- 
lery and service units directly sup- 
porting the First French Army; vari- 
ous logistical and administrative units 
along its line of communications to 
the Mediterranean; and the 1st Air- 
borne Task Force, still outposting the 
Franco-Italian border area. Under 
such circumstances de Gaulle would 
certainly have pressed for French 
command of the army group or at 
least the elimination of the army 
group and an expanded role for the 



First French Army. The result would 
have forced Eisenhower to deal with 
both French and British national in- 
terests personally, further multiplying 
his command problems. Eisenhower 
thus believed it necessary to preserve 
a significant American complexion in 
the 6th Army Group, and so he left 
the existing command arrangements 
in place. 4 

Having accepted the need for the 
6th Army Group headquarters on his 
southern wing, Eisenhower was still 
uncertain regarding the role he would 
assign to it. The northern boundary 
of Devers' command, as established 
by SHAEF, stretched northeast from 
Langres past Epinal, about forty miles 
north of Vesoul, to Strasbourg on the 
Rhine. Although its southern flank 
technically rested on the Swiss 
border, the army group also inherited 
the Seventh Army's responsibility for 
outposting the Franco-Italian border 
in the far south. Initially Eisenhower 
assigned the 6th Army Group three 
general missions within its main area 
of operations: destroy the opposing 
German forces; secure crossings over 
the Rhine River; and breach the Sieg- 
fried Line — the generic term SHAEF 
applied to the German-built West 
Wall fortifications just inside the 
German border. How these objectives 
fit into SHAEF's larger operational 
plans is difficult to discern. 

Following the breakout from the 
Normandy beachhead, the opening 
eastern movement of Eisenhower's 
Overlord forces had been character- 
ized by rapid pursuit, and the ensuing 
period by even more narrow axes of 



4 See Ltr, Eisenhower to Bradley, 15 Sep 44, in 
Eisenhower Papers, IV, 2146-47. 




MAP 12 



228 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



advance because of SHAEF's inability 
to support a more general offensive 
logistically. Eisenhower had therefore 
never been able to implement his so- 
called broad front strategy. By mid- 
September logistical concerns had in 
fact made the seizure and rapid reha- 
bilitation of a major port, Antwerp, 
an overriding military objective. Al- 
though Antwerp had fallen to Mont- 
gomery's 21st Army Group on 4 Sep- 
tember, the Germans still controlled 
the approaches to the port from the 
Schelde Estuary; the estuary would 
have to be cleared before the port 
could be opened. A complementary 
development was the desire to con- 
centrate the Allied ground advance 
against specific objectives that would 
seriously impair Germany's ability to 
wage war. The closest and most obvi- 
ous target was the Ruhr industrial 
area of northwestern Germany, a 
region whose capture would also pro- 
vide a wide invasion route into the 
heart of Germany. All these factors 
dictated that the main Allied effort 
should be focused along a narrow 
front in the zone of the 21st Army 
Group, an idea that General Mont- 
gomery as well as many high-ranking 
British political and military leaders 
vociferously advocated. 

Faced in September with the con- 
tinued logistical impossibility of sup- 
porting a broad offensive, Eisenhower 
adopted Montgomery's operational 
concept as the most suitable course of 
action. In doing so, however, he 
abandoned the flexibility of the broad 
front strategy and made terrain the 
main Allied objective rather than 
enemy forces. The failure of the 
Allied armies to close the Falaise 
Pocket earlier had already demon- 



strated a certain operational rigidity 
as well as a tendency to measure suc- 
cess totally in terms of terrain, a 
problem that had also beset the Ital- 
ian campaign. Moreover, SHAEF's in- 
flexibility in this area was further 
aggravated by the difficulties Eisen- 
hower continued to have in con- 
trolling the independently minded 
Montgomery. Such, perhaps, was the 
inevitable nature of coalition warfare, 
and Eisenhower's ability to manage 
his sometimes quarrelsome subordi- 
nates, as well as to fend off their po- 
litical chiefs and preserve the alliance, 
may have been the most accurate 
measure of his success in the art of 
generalship. 

To gain his objectives in the north, 
Eisenhower intended to employ 
Montgomery's 21st Army Group and 
most of the 12th Army Group's First 
Army. He also planned to use the 
bulk of his available airborne forces — 
now in reserve and organized into the 
First Allied Airborne Army — in the 
21st Army Group's Operation 
Market-Garden, an attempt to envel- 
op the Ruhr basin from the north. If 
Montgomery's daring offensive suc- 
ceeded, Eisenhower hoped to drive 
across the north German plains and 
finish the war by the end of the year. 

With close to half its strength sup- 
porting the northern effort, the rest 
of Bradley's 12th Army Group was 
relegated to a secondary role. Pat- 
ton's Third Army, Eisenhower told 
Bradley, was to confine itself to limit- 
ed advances, pushing east to secure 
bridgeheads over the Moselle River in 
the Metz-Nancy region, thereby 
threatening the Saar basin, an indus- 
trial region second only to the Ruhr. 
This action would also fix German 



STRATEGY AND OPERATIONS 



229 



units in place that might otherwise be 
deployed north. Once the Third 
Army had its forces firmly across the 
Moselle, the 12th Army Group was to 
concentrate its remaining resources to 
help the First Army seize crossings 
over the Rhine immediately south of 
the Ruhr. Then the Third Army could 
begin moving against the Saar. Al- 
though the resulting SHAEF cam- 
paign plan appeared somewhat rigid, 
it was perhaps complex enough to 
confuse the Germans and still allow 
SHAEF some flexibility if a change in 
the main effort became necessary. 

Despite these arrangements, dis- 
agreements over operational strategy 
still plagued the Allied high command. 
Eisenhower felt that his plans followed 
the principles of the broad front strate- 
gy as much as was practicable; Mont- 
gomery believed they adhered too 
closely to the concept, fearing that the 
Third Army's secondary thrust against 
the Saar might undermine his single 
concentrated thrust in the north. But in 
this matter, Eisenhower strongly dis- 
agreed, believing that ceasing all offen- 
sive operations in the central and 
southern Allied sectors would allow 
the Germans to transfer more forces 
north or to initiate a major counterat- 
tack elsewhere. The projected efforts 
of Bradley in the center also enabled 
Eisenhower to retain at least the sem- 
blance of a broad front strategy. In 
this, however, he was mistaken. His 
new offensives were now closely tied to 
fixed terrain objectives, while the aim 
of a true broad front offensive was the 
destruction of enemy forces, either by 
attrition or by maneuver once weak- 
nesses in the enemy defenses became 
apparent. 

Having discarded a flexible oper- 



ational strategy, SHAEF had no real 
role to assign the newly created 6th 
Army Group. From a theater point of 
view, a major effort in the south 
seemed pointless. Devers' forces 
faced a daunting array of obstacles, 
starting with the Vosges Mountains, 
followed by the Rhine River and the 
West Wall, and finally the Black 
Forest, another thirty miles of almost 
impenetrable terrain, all highly favor- 
able to the defense. And even if his 
Franco-American forces were some- 
how able to push through these bar- 
riers, which was extremely unlikely, 
the seizure of Nuremburg or 
Munich — just about the only prizes on 
the other side — did not seem especial- 
ly worthwhile objectives. However, 
there were alternatives that neither 
Eisenhower nor his SHAEF planners 
ever considered: for example, sending 
a reinforced 6th Army Group north 
through the Rhenish plains in a vast 
enveloping maneuver against the 
flank or rear of the German forces de- 
fending the Saar and Ruhr regions; or 
sending it north as far as Frankfurt 
and then northeast, following the 
famous Napoleonic route toward 
Berlin through the critical Fulda cor- 
ridor. Instead, both Eisenhower and 
his major subordinates remained pre- 
occupied with their existing plans 
which called for a drive into Germany 
by two army groups, one operating 
north of the Ardennes forest, and the 
other to the south. Developing the 
port of Antwerp and designating the 
Ruhr and Saar as strategic objectives 
had been given some thought earlier 
during Overlord planning and now 
meshed easily with the operational 
concepts already in place. But SHAEF 
planners had never taken into consid- 



230 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



eration a major force coming up from 
the south, and SHAEF concepts had 
not changed after the CCS approved 
Anvil, or even after the Seventh 
Army had landed and sped northward 
faster than anyone expected. 

Finding no role for it in the north- 
ern offensive, Eisenhower appeared 
to give Devers' 6th Army Group a 
somewhat independent status. With 
only three American divisions and a 
French army composed primarily of 
colonial troops, Devers' command 
must have seemed insignificant de- 
spite its imposing army group desig- 
nation. Nevertheless, although small, 
the group had its own independent 
line of communications and its own 
logistical base; the French forces 
could, in fact, recruit and train re- 
placements immediately behind the 
battlefield. For the present then, the 
force appeared capable of sustaining 
itself without making any demands on 
SHAEF's overtaxed logistical system 
in northern France. This situation, in 
turn, enabled the group to conduct its 
own, more or less separate offensives 
that could tie down German divisions, 
without detracting from the more im- 
portant operations in the center and 
north of the Allied line. But Eisen- 
hower still expected little from the 
6th Army Group, believing that even 
the most successful advances in the 
south had little strategic potential. 5 

What independence thereby fell to 
Devers' command was the product of 
circumstance — the simple geographi- 
cal distance between SHAEF's north- 
ern and southern wings and the per- 



5 For example, see Ltr, Eisenhower to Montgom- 
ery, 24 Sep 44, SHAEF File 381, PosnOverlord 
Ping I. 



ception that the southern sector of 
the Allied line was a dead end. But 
officially at least, 6th Army Group op- 
erations were part of the larger Allied 
concept. On 15 September, for exam- 
ple, Eisenhower promised Bradley 
that the Seventh Army, even though it 
remained part of the 6th Army 
Group, would always be maneuvered 
to support the 12th Army Group. 6 To 
the CCS and Montgomery, Eisenhow- 
er maintained that 6th Army Group 
operations would be designed primar- 
ily to support the more important 
drives farther north and to protect 
the 12th Army Group's southern 
flank. Possibly SHAEF approved 6th 
Army Group's offensives toward 
Strasbourg and the Rhine only be- 
cause they did not appear to interfere 
in any way with the northern effort; 
furthermore, Eisenhower must have 
hoped that the southern army group's 
separate line of communications 
might enable him to increase the 12th 
Army Group's logistical support at 
some future date once the capacity of 
the Mediterranean supply system had 
been sufficiently expanded. But as 
long as Devers remained logistically 
independent, Eisenhower was appar- 
ently willing to give him a certain 
freedom of action. 7 



6 Ltr, Eisenhower to Bradley, 15 Sep 44 Eisen- 
hower Papers, IV, 2147. 

7 See Rad, SHAEF to 21st Army Gp, 12th Army 
Gp, et al., SHAEF Fwd-14764, 13 Sep 44, in 
SHAEF File 381, PosI-Overlord Ping I; Min, 
SHAEF Special Mtg, 22 Sep 44, in HQ, 12th Army 
Gp AF File 371.3 Mil Objs, I; Rads, SHAEF to 12th 
Army Gp and 6th Army Gp, SHAEF Fwd- 15934 
and Fwd- 15981, 26 Sep 44; Rad, SHAEF to CCS, 
SHAEF Fwd-16181, 29 Sep 44. The last three in 
SHAEF File 381, Post-OvERLORD Ping II. 



STRATEGY AND OPERATIONS 




Lt. Gen. Lucian K. Truscott, Gen- 
eral Patch, and General Devers, October 
1944. 

Patch and Truscott 

Within the 6th Army Group, the re- 
actions of the senior commanders to 
SHAEF's plans were mixed. 8 General 
Devers was undoubtedly disappoint- 
ed. Hoping ultimately for a greater 
role for his command, he continued 
to press SHAEF for an additional 
American corps to strengthen Patch's 
Seventh Army. Patch was also under- 
standably unenthusiastic upon receiv- 
ing word that his forces would be rel- 



8 This section is based on Truscott, Command Mis- 
sions, pp. 441-45; Seventh Army FO 5, 14 Sep 44; 
Seventh Army Diary, 13-17 Sep 44; Rad, Devers to 
Eisenhower, B-16370, 13 Sep 44, in SHAEF File 
381, Post-OVERLORD Ping I. 



231 

egated to a minor supporting role, 
and Truscott was obviously dis- 
pleased that his current offensive 
would have to be halted and his front 
moved north opposite the Vosges 
Mountains. In contrast, General de 
Lattre, unhappy with the current divi- 
sion of the First French Army be- 
tween Patch's Seventh, was generally 
satisfied with the concentration of the 
French on the Allied right wing. 9 For 
both political and military reasons 
that decision, fully supported by 
Devers and Patch, was to prove 
sound. 

Based on Eisenhower's guidance, 
Devers issued new orders calling for 
the French II Corps to move from the 
sector west of the Saone River, on VI 
Corps' northern flank, to the area 
south of the VI Corps, taking over the 
territory currently occupied by the 
45th Infantry Division. The 36th Divi- 
sion would simultaneously stretch to 
the north, taking over the area vacat- 
ed by the II Corps. These changes 
would put all of de Lattre's forces op- 
posite the Belfort Gap, with the II 
Corps in the north and the I Corps in 
the south and Patch's three-division 
"army" opposite the rugged Vosges 
Mountains. Within its zone, the First 
French Army was to drive through 
the Belfort Gap and then head north 
to clear the Alsatian plains; to the 
north, the VI Corps was to march 
northeast across the Vosges, with its 
axis of advance between Vesoul and 
St. Die, and aim at Strasbourg, some 
120 miles from Vesoul. 

After fully digesting the Seventh 
Army's new orders, Truscott wrote a 
strongly worded letter to Patch 



De Lattre, History, pp. 167-69. 



232 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



making strenuous objections to the 
change in plans. 10 Believing that the 
Nineteenth Army was close to total col- 
lapse and that the VI Corps was on 
the verge of breaking through the 
northern shoulder of the Belfort Gap 
to the Rhine, he reminded Patch that 
the Army commander himself had just 
approved the continuation of his of- 
fensive against Belfort and, he felt, 
had agreed that the Belfort Gap was 
one of the primary gateways to the 
German heartland. By the time the 
Allies regrouped their forces, the 
Germans would have slammed the 
gate shut. Truscott had had his fill of 
winter fighting in the mountains of 
Italy, and neither he nor any of his 
troops desired to repeat the experi- 
ence in the Vosges. The terrain and 
weather, he pointed out, would allow 
the Germans to control the pace of 
any Allied offensive there and, in his 
opinion, would waste three fine 
American divisions with little benefit 
either to SHAEF's efforts in the north 
or to the First French Army's drive 
against Belfort. Rather than tying 
German divisions down to defend the 
area, a mountain offensive would 
allow them to deploy more resources 
elsewhere. In Truscott's opinion the 
greatest assistance that the Seventh 
Army could provide SHAEF was to 
send the VI Corps directly through 
the Belfort Gap to the Rhine. If, he 
concluded, the VI Corps could not be 
employed properly in France, then it 
should be returned to Italy under 
AFHQ, control to mount an amphibi- 
ous operation against Genoa. Such an 
operation, Truscott was convinced, 



10 The letter is quoted in full in Truscott, Com- 
mand Missions, pp. 441-43. 



would at least break the stalemate in 
Italy, whereas an attack through the 
High Vosges Mountains would ac- 
complish nothing. 

Patch tried to soothe Truscott as 
best he could, relaying the news that 
the U.S. Senate had recently con- 
firmed his promotion to lieutenant 
general. Nevertheless, he could offer 
little hope that SHAEF's operational 
concepts could be altered or that the 
VI Corps would be allowed to contin- 
ue its offensive against the Belfort 
Gap. In this area Patch could do little 
more than affirm his confidence in 
Truscott and hold out hope that the 
Germans might also have discounted 
an Allied attack over the Vosges and 
thus maintained only a thin defensive 
shell there. 

Tactical Transition 

On 15 and 16 September Trus- 
cott's forces resumed their drive east, 
meeting stiff German resistance on 
the 15th but only scattered opposition 
on the following day as the 3d Divi- 
sion occupied Lure, the 36th Division 
secured Luxeuil, and the 117th Caval- 
ry Squadron reached St. Loup. Late 
on the 16th, however, Truscott or- 
dered a halt to the advance and, in 
compliance with Patch's directive of 
the 14th, issued instructions reorient- 
ing the corps for an immediate drive 
northeast across the Moselle River 
and into the Vosges Mountains 
toward St. Die and Strasbourg. 11 He 
hoped that the French II Corps, rede- 
ploying from the north, could relieve 
the 45th Division on his southern 
wing by the 17th. Ever the opportun- 



VI Corps FO 3, 16 Sep 44. 



STRATEGY AND OPERATIONS 



233 



ist, Truscott wanted to begin as 
quickly as possible before the Ger- 
mans had time to recover. But Devers 
decided that the northern French 
corps would be unable to complete its 
redeployment until 21 September, 
forcing Patch to direct Truscott to 
hold his units in place until the trans- 
fer of area responsibilities could be 
completed. Truscott, temporarily 
frustrated, used the next several days 
to have his units bring up supplies 
and secure forward assembly areas for 
the Moselle crossing. During this 
period the 45th Division also began 
deploying from the VI Corps' right to 
its left, or northern, wing, replacing 
the departing French. By 18 Septem- 
ber, Truscott thus had his three divi- 
sions oriented on the Moselle and the 
Vosges, ready to advance northeast 
on command. 

To Truscott's surprise, preliminary 
probes toward the Moselle between 
16 and 18 September found German 
opposition again stiffening in the 
southern part of his sector close to 
the Belfort Gap, but almost negligible 
resistance in the north, especially in 
the Remiremont-Epinal area along 
the Moselle. Again the irrepressible 
Truscott sought Patch's permission 
for an immediate attack to exploit the 
situation. This time the reaction was 
more positive. Although SHAEF had 
not yet officially approved the plan to 
push the Seventh Army across the 
Vosges, Devers and Patch agreed with 
Truscott that further delays would 
only allow the Germans to become 
more entrenched along the Moselle 
and the western slopes of the Vosges. 
So, with the French II Corps' rede- 
ployment nearly complete, Patch, with 
Devers' blessing, gave Truscott the 



green light to start this new offensive 
the following morning. Thus, at 1630 
on the 20th, the three VI Corps in- 
fantry divisions began their advance 
toward the High Vosges. 12 

German Plans and Deployment 

Once the Allied armies had broken 
out of their Overlord beachheads, 
the basic German operational objec- 
tive in northern France was to hold 
along a defensive line as far west of 
the Franco-German border as possi- 
ble. Ostensibly, this defensive line 
was to originate at the Schelde Estu- 
ary in the Netherlands and cross into 
Germany near the city of Aachen 
(Aix-la-Chapelle). From the vicinity of 
Aachen south to the confluence of the 
Sarre and Moselle rivers near Trier, 
the line corresponded to the neglect- 
ed prewar West Wall, sometimes 
known as the Siegfried Line. The 
Trier area also marked the boundary 
between Army Groups B and G as of 8 
September. 13 

From Trier southwest thirty-five 
miles to Thionville, the line followed 
the Moselle River and was therefore 
designated the Moselle position. At 
Thionville the main defensive line was 
to swing sharply back southeast for 
about fifty miles to Sarralbe, corre- 



I2 Msg, G-3, VI Corps, to G-3, 36th Div, 191025 
Sep 44, in VI Corps War Rm Jnl, 19 Sep 44; VI 
Corps Fid Msg 191200, 19 Sep 44; Seventh Army 
Diary, 19 Sep 44. Available record files contain no 
written authorization permitting Truscott to reacti- 
vate his Field Order 3 of 16 September, and SHAEF 
did not officially approve the new offensive until 22 
September, when Devers and Patch attended a con- 
ference at SHAEF headquarters. 

13 The principal sources for this section are von 
Luttichau, "German Operations," chs. 16 and 17; 
and Krasomil, "German Operations in Southern 
France," ch. 6, CMH MS R-51. 



234 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



sponding for the most part with the 
French prewar Maginot Line. From 
Sarralbe the line was to continue gen- 
erally south and southwest across the 
Vosges, through the approaches to 
the Belfort Gap, and on to the Swiss 
border. In the area north of Devers' 
6th Army Group, the German high 
command also wanted to establish a 
western salient at Metz, on the Mo- 
selle twenty miles south of Thionville, 
and, in addition, a buffer line along 
the Moselle from Metz through 
Nancy, Epinal, and Remiremont, all 
the way south to the vicinity of l'lsle- 
sur-les-Doubs. 

In mid-September this projected 
line, named the Weststellung, or West 
Line, existed largely on paper. North 
of Aachen, for example, construction 
of permanent fortifications and obsta- 
cles had barely begun, and south of 
the city the old West Wall defenses 
needed to be completely rebuilt. Be- 
tween Thionville and Sarralbe, the 
Maginot Line defensive works, al- 
though more formidable, would 
either have to be altered to face west- 
ward or demolished. South of Sar- 
ralbe and opposite the 6th Army 
Group, the only activity on the trace 
of the proposed line was the hasty 
construction of some field fortifica- 
tions in the Vosges by civilian forced 
labor and a few pioneer battalions. 

As the VI Corps was about to begin 
its attack, the opposing German 
forces were desperately trying to buy 
time to turn the Weststellung into a 
solid defensive position. Army Group 
G's most immediate concern was not 
the Belfort Gap or the Vosges de- 
fenses, but defenses in the area 
around Metz and Nancy. There the 
progress of Patton's Third Army had 



kept the German First Army off bal- 
ance, making it impossible for 
Blaskowitz to assemble and direct a 
strong armored counterattack with Lt. 
Gen. Hasso von Manteuffel's Fifth 
Panzer Army against Patton's southern 
flank, as Hitler had ordered. The 
Third Army had continually forced 
the First Army back, and Blaskowitz 's 
concerns had been almost entirely de- 
fensive. At the insistence of von 
Rundstedt, whom Hitler had brought 
back to command OB West in early 
September, he finally launched a 
counterattack with one panzer corps 
on 9 September, but by the 14th 
these forces had been shattered by 
Third Army units assisted by the Sev- 
enth Army's French II Corps driving 
east of Dijon. 

To gain additional strength for a 
renewed effort, Blaskowitz requested 
authorization to pull the bulk of the 
Nineteenth Army back to the Moselle 
River, keeping some forces west of 
the river in front of the Belfort ap- 
proaches. Von Rundstedt referred the 
matter to OKW, and Hitler approved 
the withdrawal on the 15th, with the 
proviso that Army Group G launch the 
new counterattack no later then 18 
September. To ensure its success, OB 
West ordered Blaskowitz to send both 
the 11th Panzer Division and the 113th 
Panzer Brigade from the Belfort Gap 
area north to von Manteuffel. 

By 17 September Army Group G had 
completed most of the redeployments 
and command shufflings necessitated 
by the scheduled counterattack. In the 
far north the First Army held Army 
Group G's right wing with two corps 
between Trier and Nancy. In its 
center, the Fifth Panzer Army occupied 
a thirty-mile front from Nancy to the 



STRATEGY AND OPERATIONS 



235 



Rambervillers area just north of 
Epinal. Both armies faced units of 
Bradley's 12th Army Group. South of 
Rambervillers, the Nineteenth Army 
stood opposite Devers' small 6th 
Army Group along a fron t stretching 
for about ninety miles I {Map 13) 
Along the Moselle, from Charmes ten 
miles south to Epinal, the Nineteenth 
Army's LXVI Corps held the river line 
with a motley collection of 16th Divi- 
sion and Group Ottenbacher remnants, 
stragglers from other kampfgruppen 
chopped up in the Dijon salient, two 
battalions of the 19th SS Police Regi- 
ment, and some Luftwaffe and Kriegs- 
marine "retreads." 

From Epinal southeast eleven miles 
along the Moselle to Remiremont and 
another eleven miles southwest to La 
Longine, the Nineteenth Army's LXIV 
Corps took over with the 716th Division 
on its right and the 189th Division 
{Group von Schweriri) on its left. Next 
was the IV Luftwaffe Field Corps with 
the 338th and 198th Divisions de- 
ployed on a line, north to south, 
along a fifteen-mile front west of the 
Moselle from La Longine south to La 
Cote, about four miles east of Lure 
on Route N-19. Below La Cote to the 
Swiss border, a distance of about 
thirty miles, was the LXXXV Corps, 
guarding the Belfort Gap with the 
159th Division on its right, Group De- 
gener in the center, and the 11th Panzer 
Division on the south. Wiese had 
somehow managed to retain the 
panzer division until the night of 18- 
19 September, but its departure was 
imminent. Only the headquarters of 
Corps Dehner, currently based inside 
Belfort city, remained uncommitted. 

From 15 to 19 September Trus- 
cott's final eastward advance had 



pushed back the Nineteenth Army units 
holding positions west of the Moselle 
from Remiremont south to the Doubs 
River. The German withdrawal to new 
defensive lines was well under way 
across most of the front by the morn- 
ing of the 19th, which accounts for 
the diminishing resistance experi- 
enced by the VI Corps and the 
French II Corps. By the evening of 19 
September the II Corps French 
troops were within two miles of La 
Cote; elements of the 3d Division 
were scarcely three miles from La 
Longine; the 36th Division had a rein- 
forced infantry battalion two miles 
from Remiremont; and the 117th 
Cavalry Squadron had closed within 
four miles of Epinal. Thus, although 
Patch and Truscott feared that the 
Germans might have reestablished a 
firm defensive line by the 19th, both 
Blaskowitz and Wiese were concerned 
whether their units could make much 
of a showing south of Charmes with 
the Allied forces seemingly still in hot 
pursuit. 

How close the Nineteenth Army was 
to collapse at this juncture is hard to 
estimate. Due to the command and 
administrative confusion throughout 
the force, even determining its gener- 
al strength and actual dispositions is 
difficult. Employing the German prac- 
tice of counting only troops under the 
combat battalion headquarters as 
combat effectives, Wiese's infantry 
strength numbered about 13,000 men 
on 19 September, with the total 
strength of the divisions deployed 
across the Nineteenth Army's front per- 
haps three to five times as high. But 
these figures are conjectures only, 
and even these estimates leave out 
the numerous kampfgruppen, security 




MAP 13 



STRATEGY AND OPERATIONS 



237 



and police units, Army service units, 
and Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine troops 
filling in here and there as infantry, 
some of which may have been count- 
ed in with the total infantry division 
effectives. Other organizations in the 
Nineteenth Army's area included securi- 
ty, fortress, and engineer units, which 
were generally associated with the 
construction of the Weststellung de- 
fenses and were thus under Army 
Group G control, but could pass to the 
Nineteenth Army in an emergency. Also 
included in this category were the 
four-regiment 405th Replacement Divi- 
sion and various static artillery units. 
Under direct army control, Wiese had 
about 90 pieces of field artillery, 
roughly 30 infantry light howitzers 
(75-mm.), and around 25 dual-pur- 
pose 88-mm. guns. The 11th Panzer 
Division, reduced to about 25 tanks as 
of 19 September, was beginning to 
receive some replacements and new 
equipment, but was still only margin- 
ally effective. In sum Wiese would 
have an increasingly difficult time 
holding back a general 6th Army 
Group offensive, or even a smaller 
one if it was concentrated in the right 
area. 

Meanwhile, events north of the 
Nineteenth Army's front had begun to 
threaten its right flank. Von Manteuf- 
fel's Fifth Panzer Army launched an 
attack toward Luneville on the 18th 
and Nancy on the 19th, but both of- 



fensives were too weak to have any 
chance of success. Von Manteuffel's 
left wing was quickly forced back by 
the advance of the U.S. Third Army's 
XV Corps across the Moselle, and, in 
the process, Wiese's northernmost 
force, the LXVI Corps, was pushed 
back farther east. The evening of 19 
September thus found it in disarray, 
trying to regroup its forces south of 
Rambervillers and hold the Nineteenth 
Army's northern flank between the 
Moselle and Baccarat, situated on the 
Meurthe River about ten miles north- 
east of Rambervillers. 

Not surprisingly, Hitler had become 
increasingly critical of Blaskowitz's 
performance. The failure of the Fifth 
Panzer Army's counterattack against 
the U.S. Third Army and the continu- 
ous withdrawal of the Nineteenth Army 
in the face of little more than Trus- 
cott's three divisions had predictably 
angered the German Fuhrer. Hitler 
had never established a close relation- 
ship with the apolitical Blaskowitz 
and, unwilling to take any action 
against von Rundstedt, relieved the 
Army Group G commander on 21 Sep- 
tember. Blaskowitz was replaced by 
Lt. Gen. Hermann Balck, formerly the 
commander of the Fourth Panzer Army 
on the Russian front. But whether 
Balck or any other German general 
could greatly influence the coming 
battles along the German frontier was 
problematic. 



CHAPTER XIII 

VI Corps at the Moselle 



When Operation Market-Garden — 
the Allied airborne-led offensive 
against the extreme northern sector 
of the German defensive line — began 
on 17 September, Truscott's VI 
Corps had been approaching the 
hasty German defenses in the Belfort 
Gap. But in the ensuing days, as the 
Allied attack in the north played out 
its part, Devers, the new 6th Army 
Group commander, reorganized the 
Allied forces from southern France 
into two armies, Patch's Seventh 
Army in the north (with only one 
corps, the VI) and de Lattre's First 
French Army in the south (with two 
corps, the I and II). The shift pushed 
Truscott's sector of advance to the 
north, and his further movement east- 
ward toward the German border was 
now blocked by the formidable High 
Vosges Mountains. During World 
War I the Germans had seized the 
area in 1914, and the French had 
never bothered to penetrate there in 
strength. The heavily forested, rising 
mountainous terrain gave too many 
obvious advantages to the defenders. 
However, as the inability of Mont- 
gomery's 21st Army Group to bring 
the northern operation to a successful 
conclusion became evident by the 
25th, Patch and Truscott hoped that a 



thrust through the Vosges might sur- 
prise the Germans and provide a back 
door to the German border. 

Allied Plans and Alignment 

Truscott's plans for the assault 
against Nineteenth Army's re-forming 
defenses called for the VI Corps to 
push generally northeast across the 
Moselle River and into the Vosges 
foothills with three divisions abreast. 1 
The 3d Division was to be on the 
right, or southern, wing with its open 
flank tied to the French II Corps; the 
36th Division was to occupy the VI 
Corps center; and the 45th Division 
was to take the left, with the 117th 
Cavalry Squadron screening VI 
Corps' northern flank, adjacent to the 
Third Army's XV Corps. Responsibil- 
ity for the left flank was ultimately to 
pass to the 45th Division when it 
completed its displacement north, 



'Planning information in this section is generally 
from VI Corps FO 3, 16 Sep 44; VI Corps Fid Msg 
191200A, 19 Sep 44; VI Corps Fid Msg 201900A, 
20 Sep 44; Seventh Army Rpt, I, 289-90, 299; First 
French Army Personal and Secret Instruction 2, 17 
Sep 44 (in Annex IV of de Lattre, Histoire, French 
language edition); II French Corps, Directive for the 
Relief of VI Corps, 18 Sep 44; de Lattre, History, pp. 
182-83; II French Corps, Instruction Personal and 
Secret for the Commanders of the 1st DMI, 1st DB, 
2d DIM, 20 Sep 44. 



VI CORPS AT THE MOSELLE 



239 



and the cavalry squadron was to move 
over to the right flank of the VI 
Corps where it would provide close li- 
aison with the French II Corps. 

The VI Corps' front for the drive 
across the Moselle was about thirty 
miles wide northwest to southeast, 
approximately twice the width along 
which contemporary U.S. Army field 
manuals expected a three-division 
corps to deploy. The corps' northern 
boundary with the Third Army's XV 
Corps crossed the Moselle about two 
miles north of Epinal and continued 
northeast thirteen miles to Ramber- 
villers and then another nine miles to 
the Meurthe River at Baccarat. North 
of Epinal, Rambervillers, and Bac- 
carat, Maj. Gen. Wade H. Haislip's 
XV Corps faced the XL VI I Panzer 
Corps of Army Group G's Fifth Panzer 
Army. By 20 September the XV Corps 
was well beyond the Moselle in its 
sector and was moving into Luneville, 
on the Meurthe River about twenty- 
eight miles north of Epinal. Elements 
of the XV Corps crossed the Meurthe 
near Luneville on the 20th, and the 
corps' French 2d Armored Division 
had scouting elements within seven 
miles of Baccarat. 

At the other end of its new front, 
the VI Corps' southern boundary ex- 
tended from Lure northeast eighteen 
miles to cross the Moselle at Le Thil- 
lot, and continued northeast into the 
Vosges past Gerardmer, fifteen miles 
beyond. Route N-486, a secondary 
highway connecting Lure and Ger- 
ardmer, marked the boundary be- 
tween the VI Corps and the French II 
Corps. 

While Truscott's VI Corps ad- 
vanced generally northeast to Stras- 
bourg on the Rhine, de Monsabert's 



II Corps was to head in a more eas- 
terly direction. General de Lattre 
planned a two-corps attack to breach 
the Belfort Gap, with the II Corps 
outflanking Belfort on the north while 
General Bethouart's I Corps under- 
took to drive directly through the gap 
to Mulhouse, twenty-three miles 
beyond. De Lattre hoped that the 
First French Army could begin its 
attack on or about 27 September, but 
Generals Devers and Patch were not 
so optimistic, believing that French 
logistical and redeployment problems 
would push the starting date of the 
French offensive back to mid-Octo- 
ber. Until then, the most Devers and 
Patch expected from the French were 
some limited attacks in the II Corps' 
sector to support the VI Corps' as- 
sault. 

As was his custom, Truscott estab- 
lished a series of phase lines for the 
new VI Corps offensive, which was to 
begin at 0630 on 20 September. 
Phase Line I lay generally ten miles 
west of the Moselle and included the 
forward assembly areas needed for 
the Moselle crossing. Phase Line II 
included the Moselle River, the rail 
and highway center of Epinal on the 
Moselle, and the rising ground east of 
the river. After crossing the Moselle, 
Truscott planned to have the attack 
move in a more northerly direction, 
pivoting on the 45th Division at 
Epinal while the 3d and 36th Divi- 
sions swung north to Phase Lines III 
and IV, which included Gerardmer 
and Rambervillers. An advance to 
Phase Line V would carry the corps' 
center and left flank across the 
Meurthe River between Baccarat and 
St. Die. From the corps' forward posi- 
tions on the morning of 20 Septem- 



240 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



ber, it was twenty-five to thirty miles 
to St. Die and another forty miles 
from St. Die to the corps' long-range 
objective, Strasbourg on the Rhine. 

On the eve of the new offensive, 
substantial portions of VI Corps were 
already on or beyond Phase Line I 
and were in position to start crossing 
the Moselle. The 3d Division was to 
cross in a zone that stretched from Le 
Thillot northwest eleven miles to a 
point a mile or so south of Remire- 
mont, also on the Moselle. Once 
across the river and on Phase Line II, 
the 3d Division was to continue 
northeast, cross the Moselotte River, 
seize Gerardmer on Phase Line III, 
and drive on to Phase Line IV, sup- 
porting a 36th Division attack toward 
St. Die. 

In the center, the 36th Division's 
crossing zone along the Moselle ex- 
tended northwest about ten miles 
from the vicinity of Remiremont to 
Arches and Archettes. The division's 
ultimate objective was St. Die. The 
45th Division, which had to redeploy 
from VI Corps' right to its left, was 
going to be a day or two behind the 
other divisions in moving up to the 
Moselle. The division's sector along 
the river was about eight miles wide, 
and the first important objective was 
Epinal. After seizing Epinal and cross- 
ing the Moselle, the 45th was to con- 
tinue northeast to secure Ramber- 
villers and Baccarat. 

The High Vosges 

The High Vosges mountain chain is 
about seventy miles long, north to 
south, and some thirty to forty miles 
wide. After crossing the Moselle, 
Truscott's two northern attacking di- 



visions would begin entering the foot- 
hills of the mountain range, while 
O'Daniel's 3d Division, attacking in 
the south, would already be running 
into hilly terrain as it approached the 
upper Moselle. In the north, along 
the line Epinal-Rambervillers-Bac- 
carat, the terrain consisted generally 
of open but hilly farmland, with the 
higher elevations usually thickly 



wooded (Map 14). Here the 45th Di- 
vision would have some of the only 
good offensive terrain in the VI 
Corps sector. Elsewhere the ground 
would become progressively more dif- 
ficult and more thickly forested. From 
the Moselle to St. Die and farther 
east, the elevation of terrain slowly 
rose and was increasingly broken up 
by large hills and mountains whose 
valleys served as watersheds for the 
region. Here the prevailing winds 
from the north and west brought 
moisture-laden clouds that fed the 
dense forests and almost tropical 
vegetation. Once across the crest of 
the Vosges, the attackers would find 
the eastern slopes of the range steep- 
er but more sparsely wooded because 
of the reduced amount of rainfall. 
Here, after defending the broader 
mountain forests on the west side of 
the Vosges, the Germans could be ex- 
pected to put up a final resistance 
along the great eastern passes that 
led to the plains below. 

The road network through the 
High Vosges was barely adequate for 
military operations. Most roads ran 
along stream valleys dominated by 
sharply rising, usually forested, high 
ground. The roads traversing the 
High Vosges from east to west even- 
tually left the stream valleys to cross 
over high, easily defensible mountain 



VI CORPS AT THE MOSELLE 



24 1 




MAP 14 



passes. The few railroad lines gener- 
ally ran north to south and were used 
by the Germans to strengthen their 
interior lines of communication. 

Everywhere in the High Vosges the 
rough terrain, first gradually rising 
and then falling away to a deteriorat- 



ed escarpment overlooking the Alsa- 
tian plains to the east, would provide 
the Germans with every possible de- 
fensive advantage. The weather, too, 
would help the Germans. The Allied 
forces expected heavy rains to begin 
throughout the mountains during late 



242 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



September — and in September 1944 
the rains began earlier than usual. 
Rain and fog would reduce visibility 
at ground level, while fog, rain, and 
thick overcasts would drastically cur- 
tail Allied air support. Throughout 
the coming winter, as Truscott and 
many other VI Corps soldiers well 
knew from their experiences in Italy, 
the weather would grow steadily 
worse as rain gave way to snow. In 
summary, the terrain of the High 
Vosges Mountains, the expected 
weather conditions, the locations and 
routes of the main roads, and the 
broad front assigned to the VI Corps 
would make it difficult to concentrate 
American offensive strength for a de- 
cisive breakthrough; and the defend- 
ing Germans would find it fairly easy 
to block the limited number of ave- 
nues through the Vosges. However, if 
the Moselle could be crossed and the 
Vosges attacked before the Germans 
had the opportunity to solidify their 
defenses, and before the weather 
became significantly worse, the pros- 
pects of reaching the Rhine at an 
early date would be greatly enhanced. 

The 45th Division at Epinal 

On the morning of 20 September, 
when the VI Corps' attack began, the 
45th Division was still in the process 
of moving north and had no troops in 
position to strike for the Moselle. But 
throughout the day the 117th Cavalry 
Squadron, roaming up and down 
roads west of Epinal, secured assem- 
bly ground for regiments of the arriv- 
ing division, and during the late after- 
noon the 179th Infantry began 
moving into high ground west of the 
Moselle three to four miles south of 



Epinal (Map 15). The leading units 
encountered only scattered resistance 
from outposts of the 716th Division, 
LXIV Corps. 2 

During the following day, 21 Sep- 
tember, the 157th and 180th Infantry 
regiments deployed north of the 
179th, and all three began probing 
for intact bridges, fords, or at least 
crossing sites where assault boats 
could be employed or treadway 
bridges installed. The 157th and 
180th Infantry, both closing in on 
Epinal, encountered the stiffest resist- 
ance. North of Epinal — the 157th's 
sector — the Moselle was generally 
fordable for infantry, but the German 
defenders had positioned roadblocks 
on the approaches to the river, de- 
stroyed most of the bridges over the 
Moselle, and covered likely crossing 
sites with artillery and mortar fire 
from the opposite bank. At Epinal, 
the 180th regiment's specific objec- 
tive, the river, was unfordable and, 
eighty feet wide, flowed swiftly north- 
ward between twenty-foot-high banks. 
South of Epinal the unit found only 
marginal fording and small boat 
crossing sites, and the Germans had 
blown up the main highway bridge at 
Archettes, on the regiment's right. 

Unable to find suitable crossing 
and slowed by German roadblocks, 
mines, and artillery, the 157th Infan- 
try began extending northward to 
Chatel, where the Third Army's XV 
Corps already had a forty-ton bridge 



2 German information in this chapter derives from 
Mosenthal, "German Operations in Southern 
France: The Establishment of a Continuous Defen- 
sive Front by Army Group G, 15 Sep-1 Oct 44," pp. 
16-50, CMH MS R-68; Cole, The Lorraine Campaign, 
pp. 205-08, 233-35; VI Corps and 36th Div G-2 
Per Rpts, 19-30 Sep 44. 



THE VI CORPS CROSSES 
THE MOSELLE RIVER 

20-25 September 1944 

— l s 7^> R egi me ri tat Ax i s of Advance. 20-25 Sep 
^ German Counterattack. 25 Sep 



German Order of Battle, 25 Sep 



10 



MILES 



Baccarat I 



JRaon-l'Etape 



Rambervillers |\i 



, Chatel 



iVaxoncourt 
Boh; de la 
L Forests ris 



iSte, Helens 
\ LXV1 . Frsmilonfaine 



^St. Die 1 



' GrandvMers 
• Vimenil 



\Brouvetieures 

/ 

JBwyems 



4.-. r 



Epinali 



■179' 



/ 



m 

■ Ycimon^ Lepanges 
Dbceites 

_|LX1V 



Q I 



I Archattes T 

j Jarmeni^l 



Eloyes 



{Tendon 

0^ 



Roan-aux-Bois 



te Tholy 

N-417 

de Cfewfe 



Gerardmer 




MAP 15 



244 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



in place. General Eagles, the 45th Di- 
vision commander, recommended 
sending the 157th regiment over the 
Chatel bridge to descend on the 
Epinal area from the north, while the 
180th Infantry continued its frontal 
assault from the west. Truscott quick- 
ly made the necessary arrangements 
with the XV Corps headquarters, and, 
beginning about 2100 on the 21st, 
the bulk of the 157th began crossing 
at Chatel, with one infantry battalion 
wading across the Moselle near Igney, 
several miles south, on the 22d. Most 
of the regiment then assembled near 
Vaxoncourt, about eight miles north 
of Epinal, and began to advance 
south. 

Facing the 157th south and south- 
east of Vaxoncourt was the Bois de la 
Foresterie, four square miles of forest 
heavily defended by German infantry, 
supported by artillery, mortars, and 
machine guns emplaced along the 
slopes to the east. On 22 and 23 Sep- 
tember the 157th Infantry struggled 
south through the woods, while stav- 
ing off German counterattacks against 
the bridgehead. General Eagles had 
expected the 157th to make much 
faster progress, thereby easing the 
180th Infantry's frontal assault. In- 
stead, at dark on the 23d, the 180th 
was still having trouble at Epinal, and 
the 157th had not yet fought its way 
south out of the Third Army's sector. 
The two-day effort had cost the 157th 
Infantry 10 men killed and 103 
wounded. 

The 180th Infantry had spent 21 
and 22 September inching its way 
toward the Moselle in the area west 
and southwest of Epinal, encounter- 
ing an intricate series of roadblocks, 
minefields, barbed-wire entangle- 



ments, and booby-trapped buildings. 
German rifle and machine-gun fire 
covered many of the obstacles, while 
German artillery, armor, and rocket 
batteries east of the river harassed the 
attackers. Late on 22 September the 
Germans began withdrawing their 
troops to the east bank of the Mo- 
selle, vacating the western section of 
Epinal; but with small arms and 
mortar fire they repulsed several at- 
tempts by the 180th Infantry to cross 
the river before dark. By nightfall the 
regiment had reached the Moselle 
only at Epinal's northern outskirts. 

During the morning of 23 Septem- 
ber the 180th mopped up most of the 
section of Epinal west of the Moselle, 
but could not prevent the Germans 
from blowing up the last intact bridge 
within the small city. In the afternoon 
the 2d Battalion, 180th Infantry, 
crossed on the north and, after bat- 
tling various LXVI Corps elements, 
drove laboriously up rising ground 
north and northeast of the city. On 
the southern edge of Epinal, German 
artillery and tank fire twice repulsed 
crossing attempts by the 3d Battalion. 
Finally, behind heavy supporting fires 
and the cover of darkness, the battal- 
ion successfully crossed the river that 
evening. 

So far, the motley collection of 
forces under LXVI Corps had managed 
to stall both the 157th and 180th 
regiments, but on 24 September 
German resistance in front of the 
45th Division's center and left began 
to collapse. The 157th cleared the 
Bois de la Foresterie, made some 
progress against the high ground to 
the east, and pushed troops south to 
within four miles of Epinal. The 
180th Infantry, after repulsing an 



VI CORPS AT THE MOSELLE 



245 



early morning German counterattack, 
finally secured Epinal during the day 
and probably could have driven well 
beyond the city, but delayed further 
advances pending the completion of a 
forty-ton Bailey bridge over the Mo- 
selle. Engineers finished the bridge 
about 1600 on the 24th, and supplies 
and vehicles started to roll through 
Epinal almost immediately. 

On the 25th, the 157th and 180th 
Infantry regiments advanced six miles 
northeast of Epinal into the Vosges, 
opposed mainly by German artillery 
and assault gun fire. By dusk the 
German defenders were thus in full 
retreat all along the 45th Division's 
front. But the division's main prize 
was Epinal itself, a key rail and high- 
way center that gave the Seventh 
Army and VI Corps an excellent 
supply base from which to support 
future drives into the High Vosges. 
The capture of the city, which Army 
Group G and Nineteenth Army consid- 
ered a most important defensive bas- 
tion, had cost the 180th Infantry 55 
men wounded and 30 missing, while 
the 157th Infantry, technically in a 
supporting role, had lost 15 men 
killed, 170 wounded, and 30 missing 
during the attack. 

To the south, the 179th Infantry, 
after several false starts, managed to 
shuttle its troops across the Moselle 
in rubber assault boats during the 
night of 21-22 September, and se- 
cured an unopposed bridgehead just 
below Archettes, six miles south of 
Epinal. On the following day the 
179th took Archettes and, only lightly 
harassed by German mortar and small 
arms fire, secured the town until the 
engineers had thrown a forty-ton 
Bailey bridge over the river by 1330. 



From Archettes, the 179th pushed 
northeast into the Vosges toward 
Grandvillers and by dark on the 25th 
was roughly parallel to its sister regi- 
ments to the north. Casualties during 
20-25 September for the 179th num- 
bered approximately 15 men killed, 
40 wounded, and 10 missing. 

The 36th Division in the Center 

On the morning of 20 September 
the 3d Battalion, 142d Infantry, start- 
ed toward the river at Remiremont, a 
mile east of its forward position, while 
the rest of the regiment moved 
toward the same objective from the 
southwest. As the 142d moved out, 
the 141st passed northward through 
its rear, covering the flank of the 
142d and striking for the town of 
Eloyes, on the Moselle River about 
six miles north of Remiremont. Dahl- 
quist kept his best unit, the 143d In- 
fantry, in reserve to exploit any cross- 
ing sites secured by the two attacking 
regiments. 

Almost immediately the leading 
36th Division units heading for both 
Eloyes and Remiremont met unex- 
pectedly heavy opposition from 189th 
Division forces, causing Dahlquist to 
adjust the division's plan of attack. 
Initially, he ordered his northern ele- 
ment, the 141st, to send its two unen- 
gaged battalions across the Moselle 
between Eloyes and Remiremont, 
with one battalion then attacking 
north and the other south in order to 
loosen up the German defenses in 
both areas, If suitable crossing sites 
could be secured, he could follow 
with the 143d; if not, the 143d would 
have to be used to reinforce one of 
the main efforts frontally. 



246 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



Thus alerted, the 141st began 
scouting for likely crossing sites in its 
sector — which extended about six 
miles southeast along the Moselle 
from Archettes — and during the after- 
noon found an excellent ford at Noir 
Gueux, a tiny hamlet-cum-church on 
the far (east) bank about three miles 
north of Remiremont. On the west 
bank opposite Noir Gueux a narrow 
neck of woods extended to the river, 
affording the only covered approach 
to the water in the 141st Infantry's 
sector. As the site appeared unde- 
fended, Dahlquist decided to send the 
141st Infantry's 1st and 3d Battalions 
across at Noir Gueux that night, with 
the two battalions separating thereaf- 
ter, one striking for the rear of the 
German lines at Eloyes, and the other 
for Remiremont. 

The units started out from their as- 
sembly areas at Raon-aux-Bois about 
0100 on 21 September, marching off 
into a pitch-black night punctuated by 
cold, intermittent rain. As dawn ap- 
proached, fog blanketed the Moselle 
valley near Noir Gueux, which helped 
the 141st Infantry's leading troops 
achieve secrecy and surprise. The 
men of the 1st Battalion waded 
through the Moselle's cold waters, 
meeting no opposition; but shortly 
after 0700, as the fog began to lift, 
small arms fire started to harass the 
attackers. Nevertheless, the leading 
unit completed its crossing and 
headed north for Eloyes. Meanwhile, 
General Dahlquist himself had arrived 
at the Noir Gueux crossing site about 
0945, and found that the 3d Battalion 
had been unable to follow the 1st be- 
cause of increased German fire. Sub- 
sequently an attempt to cross about a 
mile south resulted in the death of 



the battalion commander, Maj. Kermit 
R. Hanson. Hanson had led the first 
two platoons across the river and 
then had been ambushed by a compa- 
ny-sized German force that had with- 
held their fire until the crossing 
began. The battalion lost 8 men 
killed, including Hanson, 7 wounded, 
and about 20 believed to have been 
captured. Dahlquist, who remained 
determined to force a crossing and 
convinced that the German defenses 
were extremely spotty, reorganized 
the battalion and finally pushed it 
across the river at the original site; he 
then followed it with his entire re- 
serve, the 143d regiment, on the 
afternoon of the 21st. 

As the 143d moved across, Dahl- 
quist learned that his other two regi- 
ments were still stalled, the 141st 
around Eloyes (with one battalion still 
west of the river and one battalion 
east) and the 142d outside of Remire- 
mont (with one battalion of the 141st 
west of the river and the entire 142d 
regiment still on the east bank). 
Quickly he ordered the entire 143d 
regiment north to Eloyes where it 
blocked the exits to the town on the 
east, and on the 22d it proceeded to 
clear the town house by house. Be- 
tween 23 and 25 September the 143d 
consolidated the rest of the Moselle 
area in the 36th Division's northern 
sector and began pushing into the 
Vosges foothills. 

While the 143d worked over 
Eloyes, Dahlquist regrouped the 
somewhat lackluster 141st and sent 
the regiment south to Remiremont. 
There the 142d had started its attack 
on 20 September from a point barely 
two miles from the town, but after 
two days of fighting the regiment had 



VI CORPS AT THE MOSELLE 



247 




Troops of 36th Infantry Division Cross the Moselle, near Longuet, September 1944. 



no more than a foothold in the west- 
ern section of Remiremont. However, 
on the 22d, as the arriving 141st 
threatened the German rear, resist- 
ance began to fall apart and the 142d 
was finally able to secure the town the 
following morning. The four-day 
battle for Remiremont had cost the 
142d Infantry 42 men killed, 111 
wounded, and 40 missing. 3 

On 24 and 25 September, the 141st 
and 142d regiments realigned them- 
selves and began advancing into the 
Vosges, with the 142d shifting north- 
ward into a new sector between the 



'Later it was learned that the Germans had cap- 
tured about 35 of the troops classified as missing. 
Most were taken prisoner on 21 September when 
Company E, attempting to infiltrate through thick 
woods to outflank a roadblock, ran into an ambush. 



143d and the 141st. The 141st Infan- 
try, which had started out as the 36th 
Division's northernmost element and 
was now on the division's right, ad- 
vanced to St. Ame; the 142d ap- 
proached Tendon, and the 143d 
neared Docelles. Behind them corps 
engineers quickly erected a Bailey 
bridge at Remiremont and a heavy 
platoon bridge at Jarmenil. So far, the 
VI Corps had crossed the Moselle 
with relatively few casualties and was 
now ready to move into the moun- 
tains. 

The German Reaction 

Until 25 September the Nineteenth 
Army's, LXVI and LXIV Corps had tried 
to contain the 36th and 45th Divi- 



248 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



sions' penetrations across the Moselle 
by means of static defenses and local, 
small-scale counterattacks. These ef- 
forts had proved futile, and by dark 
on 23 September General Wiese of 
Nineteenth Army had decided that such 
tactics would continue to be inef- 
fective unless strong armor and infan- 
try reinforcements could quickly be 
brought to bear. His main concern 
was an Allied drive directly east from 
the Remiremont-Eloyes area along 
Route N-417 through Gerardmer and 
the Schlucht Pass to Colmar. A possi- 
ble American drive northeast to St. 
Die was a secondary concern since it 
would have to pass through some of 
the worst and most easily defensible 
Vosges terrain. Wiese also reckoned 
that he had sufficient strength in the 
Epinal area to contain the 45th's 
bridgehead at least temporarily. Nor 
was he greatly worried about the area 
south of Remiremont, where, on the 
evening of the 23d, elements of the 
LXIV Corps and the IV Luftwaffe Field 
Corps were still holding O'Daniel's 3d 
Division units west of the Moselle. 
Furthermore, Wiese knew that French 
forces had taken over the entire 
region south of the VI Corps, and he 
correctly estimated that it would take 
the First French Army many days, if 
not weeks, to gather enough strength 
to launch a concerted offensive 
toward Belfort. 

Seeking reinforcements for the Re- 
miremont-Gerardmer area, Wiese de- 
cided to throw in the 198th Division, 
which Army Group G had already di- 
rected him to ship north to the Fifth 
Panzer Army. Wiese prevailed upon 
Army Group G to allow him to employ 
the 198th for a counterattack in LXIV 
Corps' sector. The division was to as- 



semble near Le Tholy, strike west and 
northwest toward Tendon and Eloyes, 
and drive the 36th Division back 
across the Moselle. In addition, a 
small armored group of the 11th 
Panzer Division, left behind when the 
rest of the division moved to the Fifth 
Panzer Army's area, was to make a 
number of feints to occupy other 
American units in the area. The time 
when American commanders were af- 
fected by such obvious chicanery, 
however, was long over. 

The attack began shortly after 1200 
on 25 September in the hills south- 
west of Le Tholy and consisted of two 
understrength grenadier regiments of 
the 198th Division with artillery sup- 
port. Misty rain and intermittent fog 
allowed the Germans to move 
through the mountains unobserved, 
and they were able to infiltrate be- 
tween the 142d and 141st regiments. 
The first German strikes hit the right 
rear of the 142d Infantry, overrun- 
ning roadblocks along the regiment's 
tenuous, cart-path lines of communi- 
cation, while farther south the 
German attack threatened the rear of 
the 141st Infantry around St. Ame. 
Confused fighting continued until 
dusk, forcing the leading units of the 
two American regiments to pull back, 
but blunting any serious German ad- 
vance toward the Moselle. As both 
sides regrouped during the early 
hours of the 26th, Army Group G di- 
rected the Nineteenth Army to call off 
the attack. During the previous day, 
25 September, contrary to Wiese's es- 
timates, the 45th Division had begun 
to break out of its Epinal bridgehead, 
advancing toward Rambervillers and 
threatening to drive a wedge between 
the LXVI and LXIV Corps. Moreover, 



VI CORPS AT THE MOSELLE 



249 



on the 25th the 3d Division had final- 
ly established a bridgehead over the 
Moselle south of Remiremont. It had 
thus become obvious that even a suc- 
cessful attempt by the 198th to reach 
the river would leave both of its 
flanks vulnerable to American coun- 
terattacks. 

The 3d Division on the Moselle 

With the 3d Division eight to ten 
miles short of the Moselle on the 
morning of 20 September, General 
O'Daniel, the division commander, 
planned to advance toward the river 
with two regiments abreast — the 7th 
Infantry on the left and the 30th on 
the right — and the 15th Infantry in 
reserve. The 7th Infantry was to cross 
at Rupt-sur-Moselle, seven miles 
south of Remiremont, and the 30th 
Infantry at Ferdrupt, three miles 
south of Rupt. The boundary be- 
tween the two attacking regiments 
was Route D-6, a mountain road that 
also marked the boundary between 
the defending LXIV and IV Luftwaffe 
Field Corps. 

In the 3d Division's zone of attack, 
the Moselle was extremely narrow 
and did not constitute much of a bar- 
rier, but the terrain along the ap- 
proaches to the river was much more 
rugged than in the north. West of the 
Moselle, the German defenses were 
concentrated in sharply rising ground 
that was densely forested on the 
higher slopes and overgrown with 
thick underbrush on other slopes 
where available maps indicated open 
ground. The division's advance would 
also have to be keyed somewhat to 
the progress of the French II Corps 
on its southern flank, which was 



facing even more difficult terrain. 

Starting out from positions near 
Faucogney on 20 September, with its 
main effort north of Route D-6, the 
7th Infantry encountered resistance of 
varying intensity and took three days 
to move within half a mile of Rupt. 
However, during the night of 23-24 
September some of its troops sur- 
prised a German garrison guarding a 
bridge over the Moselle at Rupt and 
managed to capture the span before 
the Germans could destroy it. 
Throughout the rest of the night the 
American infantry staved off several 
German efforts to retake or destroy 
the bridge and, with reinforcements, 
secured the area at daybreak. 

During the 24th and 25th the 7th 
regiment, reinforced by a battalion of 
the 15th Infantry, pushed its left flank 
north toward Remiremont and in the 
process seized another Moselle bridge 
at Maxonchamp, two miles northwest 
of Rupt. By dark on the 25th, there- 
fore, the 7th Infantry had established 
two bridgeheads over the Moselle, ex- 
panded them east of the river, and 
come more or less abreast of the 36th 
Division units at Remiremont in the 
face of only sporadic opposition by 
338th Division elements. 

To the south, the 30th Infantry had 
begun its attack on 20 September, ad- 
vancing south and southeast of Fau- 
cogney toward Melay and several 
other towns on the left flank of the 
division's axis of advance. Initially it 
hoped to outflank German positions 
along the easily defensible Route N- 
486, the Lure-Le Thillot highway. 
But Route N-486, marking the 
boundary between the VI and the 
French II Corps, was in the French 
zone of responsibility, and the 30th 



250 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



Infantry was forced to traverse thickly 
forested ground dotted with numer- 
ous small lakes, but few good roads. 
The 198th Division, which employed 
N-486 as a main supply route, readily 
recognized the threat of the 30th In- 
fantry's advance, and defended the 
area stubbornly. 

The American regiment, in three 
separate columns, spent 20-21 Sep- 
tember pushing south and east, but 
without much success. By the evening 
of the 21st, the inability of the French 
II Corps to deploy any significant 
strength northward along N-486, to- 
gether with the 30th Infantry's failure 
to secure the division's southern 
flank, began to worry O'Daniel. The 
3d Division commander, fearing that 
the Germans would soon exploit the 
growing gap between his forces and 
those of de Monsabert, urged Trus- 
cott to persuade the French to take 
over the area so that he could con- 
centrate his entire division across the 
Moselle and toward Le Tholy and 
Gerardmer. But for the moment 
Truscott demurred, and instead di- 
rected the 117th Cavalry Squadron — 
which the 45th Division had relieved 
on VI Corps' northern flank — to 
move to the 30th Infantry's right in 
order to help protect the exposed 
southern flank. 

On the morning of 22 September, 
as the American cavalry unit took 
over the Melay area aided by the 3d 
African Chasseurs (the reconnaissance 
squadron of the French 1st Armored 
Division), the 30th Infantry reassem- 
bled near Faucogney to strike north- 
east across rugged hill country toward 
Le Chene and the Moselle. But de- 
spite redeployment of the bulk of the 
198th Division north for its counterat- 



tack against the 36th Division, the 
30th could make no progress in its 
new avenue of advance. Rain, fog, 
miserable roads and trails, minefields, 
defended roadblocks, mortar and ar- 
tillery fire, and determined German 
infantry resistance combined to slow 
progress. By dusk on the 25th, the 
30th Infantry was still short of the 
Moselle and halted, pending relief by 
French forces. 



Results 

The Americans' progress in enlarg- 
ing their bridgeheads and pushing 
east of the Moselle had convinced 
Wiese by 25 September that another 
withdrawal was necessary. According- 
ly, he proposed to Army Group G that 
he pull the LXVI and LXIV Corps back 
about ten miles to positions between 
Rambervillers and Le Tholy. General 
Balck, commanding Army Group G, 
agreed with Wiese's proposals, but 
von Rundstedt at OB West felt that the 
recommended withdrawal would take 
the Nineteenth Army's right and center 
back too close to the southern, for- 
ward section of the Weststellung, a sec- 
tion that had come to bear the desig- 
nation Vosges Foothill Position. Hitler 
had already personally directed Army 
Group G to hold the Allied forces west 
of the Vosges Foothill Position in order 
to gain time to improve its main de- 
fenses, and von Rundstedt was reluc- 
tant to challenge the directive without 
due cause. However, continued pres- 
sure from Patton's Third Army 
against the Fifth Panzer Army north of 
the Nineteenth Army's LXVI Corps had 
already forced the embattled XLVII 
Panzer Corps back to Rambervillers, 



VI CORPS AT THE MOSELLE 



251 



and OB West doubted that its with- 
drawal would stop there. Considering 
the situation at Rambervillers, von 
Rundstedt agreed only to authorize a 
limited withdrawal in the Vosges, al- 
lowing the LXVI Corps and the north- 
ern wing of the LXIV Corps to pull 
back formally to the Rambervillers- 
Grandvillers-St. Ame area, but insist- 
ing that Wiese hold on to the more 
easily defensible Vosges terrain far- 
ther south. 

On 26 September Wiese according- 
ly ordered the withdrawal of both the 
LXVI Corps and the LXIV Corps' right 
flank element, the 716th Division. The 
two understrength regiments of the 
198th Division, already operating 
under LXIV Corps control, were to 
remain and back up the 716th and 
189th Divisions. The rest of the 198th 
Division was to hold the right flank of 
the IV Luftwaffe Corps south of Rupt. 
There the IV Luftwaffe was to continue 
its successful efforts to jam up the 
American and French attackers in the 
hills southeast of Le Thillot. On his 
northern flank, Wiese hoped that the 
more difficult terrain that the LXVI 
Corps was backing into between Bac- 
carat and Bruyeres would ease its de- 
fensive tasks. The American offensive 
could not continue indefinitely, and 
when it did stop, the Germans could 
sink into their Vosges strongholds 
and perhaps survive the coming 
winter intact. 

Wiese's hopes could not disguise 
the fact that the Germans had already 
been summarily ejected from good 



defensive terrain almost without a 
fight. What might have been a major 
combat operation for the VI Corps 
turned out to be an almost routine 
affair for Truscott's forces. The speed 
of the attack had caught most of the 
German defenders still west of the 
river in scattered, hastily prepared 
positions, while the more easily de- 
fensible Moselle River was left com- 
pletely unguarded in many places; VI 
Corps engineers had easily erected 
bridges over the river in a matter of 
hours with little interference from 
German artillery fire. Given time, per- 
haps as little as a few days, the de- 
fending German corps might have 
easily improved their defensive 
screens west of the river, covered the 
river line itself with more mobile pa- 
trols, reserves, and artillery fire, and 
turned the river towns into strong- 
points with stronger reserve forces in 
the hills to the east able to counterat- 
tack any VI Corps bridgeheads. But 
only in the far south was the Ameri- 
can advance significantly retarded — as 
much by the terrain and French inac- 
tivity as by German defensive 
strength. Yet the Americans had only 
begun to approach the formidable 
Vosges Mountains, and the northern 
redeployment of Truscott's energetic 
VI Corps had been duly noted by the 
German high command. Once it en- 
tered the mountains, Wiese had good 
reason to believe that he could begin 
to channel the forward progress of his 
relentless pursuer and finally slow 
down the tempo of its advance. 



CHAPTER XIV 



Approaching the Gaps: Saverne 



Despite Truscott's success in forc- 
ing the Moselle, the natural and man- 
made obstacles between the 6th Army 
Group and the German border were 
formidable. For this reason Devers 
was not nearly as confident as Trus- 
cott that the Vosges could be easily 
forced. Facing the German Nineteenth 
Army in mid-September, the 6th Army 
Group had only six divisions on 
line — Truscott's three American in- 
fantry divisions and the equivalent of 
three French divisions under de 
Lattre's control, all that he had been 
able to bring up from the south so 
far. Like the divisions in the two 
northern Allied army groups, these 
forces were overextended logistically, 
while the real battle for Germany had 
just begun. Without substantial rein- 
forcements, it was doubtful that the 
6th Army Group could play a major 
role in this struggle. 

Regarding a sustained offensive over 
the Vosges with serious misgivings, 
both Devers and Patch considered al- 
ternate routes to the German border. 
The Vosges barrier could be bypassed 
in the north through Saverne or in the 
south at Belfort. The Saverne Gap was 
a generally narrow defile that separat- 
ed the High Vosges from the Low 
Vosges, a somewhat lesser range that 



angled off to the east into Germany, 
where it became known as the Hardt 
Mountains. The much wider Belfort 
Gap separated the High Vosges from 
the Jura Mountains and the Swiss Alps. 
But Truscott's initial drive for the Bel- 
fort Gap had fallen short in early Sep- 
tember, and Patton's Third Army had 
been stopped at Metz many miles west 
of Saverne and the Sarre River valley to 
the north. Since then the German de- 
fenses in both areas had grown strong- 
er, as de Lattre's French and Patton's 
American units soon discovered. Until 
the First French Army could put most 
of its seven divisions on line, the Bel- 
fort Gap would be difficult to force, 
and the more narrow Saverne Gap lay 
in the zone of the Third Army's XV 
Corps above Rambervillers and Bac- 
carat. Devers thus had no choice but to 
send Truscott's weary forces into the 
mountains. At the very least the effort 
might weaken the German defenses in 
the gap areas, and, if employed careful- 
ly, the better-equipped and better-sup- 
ported American infantry might wear 
the hastily assembled German "grena- 
diers" thin. Nevertheless, a battle of at- 
trition in the mountains was not a mis- 
sion that the American commanders or 
their troops relished, and Devers and 
Patch continued to study the possibility 



APPROACHING THE GAPS: SAVERNE 



253 



of bypassing the Vosges Mountains to 
the north through the Saverne Gap. 

Allied Planning 

By late September, Allied offensive 
activities throughout the northern Eu- 
ropean theater had ground to a halt. 
Montgomery's drive against the Ruhr 
had been stopped at Arnhem, and 
Patton's drive on the Saar had been 
halted in Lorraine. Both northern 
Allied army groups had outrun their 
supply lines, and the 6th Army Group 
was not in much better shape. 1 Other 
factors contributing to the general 
slowdown were poor weather, which 
complicated both tactical and logisti- 
cal problems, and increasingly deter- 
mined German resistance. In Eisen- 
hower's mind the only real solution to 
the logistical problem was an early 
opening of the port of Antwerp in 
Belgium. Yet he had postponed con- 
certed action to open Antwerp in 
favor of Market-Garden, the 17-24 
September attempt to envelop the 
Ruhr industrial area from the north. 
But the support demands of the oper- 
ation only made the already serious 
logistical situation of the two north- 
ern Allied army groups worse. 

On the afternoon of 22 September, 
with the success of Market-Garden 
already in doubt, Eisenhower met 
with his major subordinate command- 
ers, including Generals Devers and 



1 Planning material in this section derives largely 
from Pogue, The Supreme Command, ch. 16; Cole, The 
Lorraine Campaign, pp. 257-59; MacDonald, The Sieg- 
fried Line Campaign, chs. 6, 8-9; Devers Diary, 21-22 
Sep 44; Seventh Army Diary, 21-23 Sep 44; 12th 
Army Gp LI 9, 25 Sep 44; Martin Blumenson, ed., 
The Patton Papers, 1940-1945 (Boston: Houghton 
Mifflin, 1974), pp. 552-57. 



Patch, to consider new plans. For the 
immediate future, Eisenhower told his 
subordinates, the logistical situation 
as well as tactical considerations 
would continue to make it impossible 
to implement a broad front strategy. 
Instead, the main Allied effort would 
have to remain in the north, in the 
sector of Montgomery's 21st Army 
Group. There, he pointed out, the 
principal Allied objective was clearing 
the seaward approaches to Antwerp. 
But Eisenhower also agreed to allow 
the 21st Army Group's offensive to 
continue against the Ruhr. The Ruhr 
effort, in turn, would still require the 
direct support of a companion offen- 
sive by the U.S. First Army, on the 
12th Army Group's left, or northern, 
wing; and the logistical support 
needed for the entire offensive meant 
that the rest of Bradley's forces, 
mainly Patton's Third Army, would 
have to remain in place. The same re- 
strictions would apply as well to the 
U.S. Ninth Army, which on 29 Sep- 
tember began moving eastward from 
Brittany to take over a sector between 
the First and Third Armies in the 
middle of the 12th Army Group. 

As for the 6th Army Group, the 22 
September conference specified that 
Devers, with his separate line of com- 
munications north from the Mediterra- 
nean, could continue his offensive 
toward Strasbourg as well as his efforts 
to push through the Belfort Gap. Al- 
though Eisenhower still considered 
that the 6th Army Group's primary 
mission was to protect the 12th Army 
Group's southern flank, the conferees 
recognized that a rapid Seventh Army 
drive to Strasbourg on the Rhine 
would best satisfy that requirement. 

During the conference Devers reit- 



254 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



erated his request for another U.S. 
corps for the Seventh Army and spe- 
cifically asked for the Third Army's 
two-division XV Corps, which was op- 
erating just north of the 6th Army 
Group and opposite the Saverne Gap. 
Noting that his army group could 
easily support both the XV Corps and 
at least one more division for that 
corps, over its existing line of com- 
munications from the south, he point- 
ed out that such a transfer of logisti- 
cal responsibility would considerably 
ease the burden on Eisenhower's 
northern supply system and would 
also allow Bradley to narrow the 12th 
Army Group's wide front. 

At the time, Devers' proposals were 
especially appealing to the harried 
SHAEF tactical and logistical planners. 
Thus, after some consideration of al- 
ternatives, Eisenhower, on 26 Septem- 
ber, decided to transfer the XV Corps 
to the 6th Army Group on the 29th and 
to add a third division to the corps 
sometime in October. He also decided 
that three more American divisions, 
which had been scheduled to join the 
12th Army Group after landing in 
northern France, were to be diverted to 
Marseille for the 6th Army Group. All 
told, six divisions either in or sched- 
uled to join Bradley's 12th Army 
Group would be transferred to the 6th 
Army Group during September and 
October. However, Eisenhower in- 
formed Devers that these would be the 
last transfers of this nature, and he ap- 
parently did not expect them to change 
the role of the 6th Army Group in 
future Allied operations. 2 



2 Additional details concerning the results of the 
22 September conference come from the following: 
HQ, 6th Army Group, "A History of the Sixth Army 



Although General Bradley could 
hardly view the loss of six divisions to 
the 6th Army Group with pleasure, he 
saw the logistical advantages involved 
in the immediate transfer of the XV 
Corps to Devers' command. Patton, 
however, was less complacent and, 
upon learning of the negotiations re- 
garding his corps, told Bradley that 
"if Jake Devers gets the XV Corps, I 
hope his plan goes sour." 3 When the 
transfer was formally announced, 
Patton wrote "May God rot his guts" 
in his diary. But the armored com- 
mander's colorful remarks often ob- 
scured his more serious side. Patton 
was obviously content to let the 6th 
Army Group's infantry handle the 
fighting in the Vosges and was more 
concerned over the decision to halt 
the forward motion of his own army 
in favor of continuing Montgomery's 
offensive in the north. 

A Change in Command 

On 29 September 1944, control of 
the XV Corps officially passed to the 
6th Army Group and the Seventh 
Army. Patch thus gained a second 
corps with a total effective strength of 
approximately 50,500 troops. The 
main maneuver elements were the 79th 
Infantry Division, with about 17,390 
troops including attachments; the 
French 2d Armored Division, with 
roughly 15,435 troops including at- 
tachments; and the 106th Cavalry 



Group" (ca. June 1945), pp. 14-16 (hereafter cited 
as "Hist, 6th Army Gp"); Rad, B-16654, 6th Army 
Gp to SHAEF, 25 Sep 44; Rad, SHAEF Fwd-15934, 
SHAEF to 6th Army Gp et al., 26 Sep 44; 12th 
Army Gp LI 9, 25 Sep 44. 

3 Blumenson, The Patton Papers, II, 1940-1945, p. 
553. 



APPROACHING THE GAPS: SAVERNE 



255 



Group, consisting of the 106th and 
121st Cavalry Squadrons and the 813th 
Tank Destroyer Battalion. Corps 
troops, exclusive of the two divisions 
and their attachments, numbered 
around 17,680. More important, the 
principal commanders in the XV Corps 
had earned excellent reputations in the 
fighting from Normandy to the Mo- 
selle. The XV Corps commander, Gen- 
eral Haislip, and the commander of the 
79th Division, Maj. Gen. Ira T. Wyche, 
had both done well under Patton's de- 
manding eyes; and the head of the 
French 2d Armored Division, Maj. 
Gen. Jacques Leclerc, 4 was considered 
by most American leaders to be one of 
the finest tank commanders in the 
Allied army. Haislip, a West Point con- 
temporary of both Patton and Patch, 
had commanded the XV Corps since 
February 1943, bringing it through the 
Desert Training Center in the south- 
western United States and then, via 
Northern Ireland and England, to Nor- 
mandy and through northern France. 
In the process he had put together a 
corps staff and supporting organiza- 
tion that would rival Truscott's VI 
Corps in excellence. Another plus was 
Haislip's close relationship with the 
sometimes difficult Leclerc, who was a 
close associate of de Gaulle and a long- 
time veteran of the Free French mili- 
tary forces. Although the French ar- 
mored division commander's temper 
rivaled that of de Lattre, his experience 
and expertise would prove invaluable 
in the coming battles. 

The acquisition, despite General 
Devers' enthusiasm and optimism, was 
not without its problems. Like the VI 



*Nom de guerre of the Vicomte Philippe Francois 
Marie de Hauteclocque. 




Maj. Gen. Wade H. Haislip 



Corps, the XV Corps was exhausted, 
and its logistical situation was even 
worse than that of de Lattre's French 
units in the south. After over one hun- 
dred days of combat and pursuit, the 
infantry units of the 79th Division were 
tired, and the division was short many 
items of supply and equipment. All 
three infantry regiments were well 
below their authorized strength of 
3,348: the 313th by about 575 troops, 
the 314th by 360, and 315th by 600. 
The division's artillery battalions were 
short of well-trained personnel and 
ammunition as well. After visiting the 
79th, General Devers estimated that 
Wyche's command needed at least two 
weeks out of the line for rest and re- 
plenishment of both personnel and 



256 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



supplies. 5 For the moment, however, 
the unit could not be withdrawn from 
its current operation. 

The 2d French Armored Division 
was hardly in better shape. Reviewing 
the division's status on 28 September, 
General Leclerc pointed out that the 
division was operating largely with 
equipment issued in North Africa over 
a year ago. 6 The division's 4,000-odd 
vehicles were in need of thorough 
overhaul, without which maintenance 
problems would soon become unman- 
ageable. Moreover, much of the nearly 
twenty-mile front that the division was 
currently holding north of Ramber- 
villers was rough, wooded, and ill- 
suited to armored operations, especial- 
ly in wet weather. Such terrain, Leclerc 
pointed out, required strong infantry 
forces; his unit, organized along the 
standard lines of a U.S. armored divi- 
sion, had only the three armored infan- 
try battalions and could not be expect- 
ed to hold the same frontage that an 
infantry division with nine infantry bat- 
talions could. In addition, the divi- 
sion's armored infantry companies 
were down to about eighty effectives, 
approximately one-third of their au- 
thorized strength. Leclerc therefore re- 
quested that his defensive sector be re- 
duced as soon as possible. 

Although Haislip accepted Leclerc's 
evaluation, neither he nor Patch had 
any infantry to spare. The 79th Infan- 
try was fully occupied in the northern 
sector of the XV Corps' front, and all 
of Truscott's infantry was committed 



5 Devers Diary, 1 Oct 44. 

6 General Leclerc's views derive from a document 
entitled "General Leclerc's Opinion on the Possibili- 
ties Offered to the 2d French Armored Division in a 
Defensive Situation and in the Present Zone of Op- 
erations," in XV Corps G-3 Jnl File, 28 Sep 44. 



in the Vosges. He could only hope 
that German inactivity would allow 
Leclerc to pull his units out of the 
line, one by one, for rest and mainte- 
nance. 

Meanwhile, Haislip struggled to 
remedy his own logistical problems. 
Beginning on 29 September, the Sev- 
enth Army started to provide the XV 
Corps with some supplies, notably 
gasoline and ammunition, which alle- 
viated the corps' most urgent require- 
ments. Despite Devers' promises, 
however, it was not until the third 
week of October that rail deliveries at 
the Seventh Army's main supply cen- 
ters, established in and around 
Epinal, were able to meet all the 
army's needs, including those of the 
XV Corps. 

With the transfer, the 6th Army 
Group also became responsible for 
carrying out tactical missions already 
assigned to Haislip's corps. Devers 
and Patch clearly understood that 
these missions included securing the 
Luneville area and continuing to pro- 
tect the right, or southern, flank of 
the Third Army — both of which re- 
quired the XV Corps' 79th Division to 
continue clearing the area east of 
Luneville. Furthermore, supplementa- 
ry Seventh Army orders specified that 
Haislip's corps was ultimately to seize 
Sarrebourg, about twenty-seven miles 
beyond Luneville and some ten miles 
short of the Saverne Gap, and in its 
southern sector, to assist VI Corps 
units in capturing and securing Ram- 
bervillers. For these operations the 
boundaries of the XV Corps were vir- 
tually unchanged. In the north, its 
border with the Third Army's XII 
Corps followed the southern bank of 
the Rhine-Marne Canal to Heming, 



APPROACHING THE GAPS: SA VERNE 



257 




General Leclerc (in jeep) and Staff at Rambouillet 



and from there continued northeast 
along Route N-4 to Sarrebourg; in 
the south its boundary with Truscott's 
VI Corps followed a line between 
Rambervillers and Baccarat. Within 
these confines Haislip would fight his 
most notable battles during the 
coming months. 7 

VI Corps Attacks (26-30 September) 

On 26 September Truscott re- 
sumed the VI Corps' drive to the 
northeast, with the 45th Division on 
the left p ushing out of its bridgehead 
at Epinal 16% At the time, the 

division's sector closely corresponded 
to the area defended by the German 



'Seventh Army FO 6, 29 Sep 44. 



LXVI Corps, and, in fact, the effective 
combat strength of the defending 
corps was about the same as the at- 
tacking American division. But with 
the German defenders pulling back 
on Wiese's orders and with the ter- 
rain being generally open and rolling 
farmland, the 45th had little trouble 
advancing. The 157th regiment, with 
elements of the XV Corps' French 2d 
Armored Division on its left, covered 
the fifteen miles to Rambervillers by 
the 29th against scattered resistance 
and found that the Germans were be- 
ginning to pull back even farther east 
toward Baccarat. South of the 157th, 
the 45th Division's 180th and 179th 
Infantry had a tougher time, especial- 
ly in the slopes and woods west of 
Bruyeres, but managed to reach the 



THE V! CORPS ADVANCE 

26-30 September 1944 

I 1 Forwardmost Division Location, 

I J Evening, 25 September 

Approximate Front, 30 September 

German Order of Battle, 30 September 



10 



MILES 



Baccarat 1 



XX 



^5 



^aon-l'Etape 



OGLSNER 



Ignay* 



gVaxoncourt 
j.,"Bois de la 
-"foresterie 



157a 



Ste. He!ene\ 



XXX 

Oxun %W 



16 



, Fremifontaine 



St. Die) 



45 



Grandvillers 
17 V Vimenil 



( Brouvelieures 

„ / 
.Bruyeres 



Eptnali 



\ArchetteSj 



'Docetles 
141 




Aepangas 



3G 



XXX 



3) 

Ilxiv 



Tendon I 



Arches 



Roan-aux-Bois 



B Jarmenil 



| Efoyes 



/wo/r 

Gueux 30 



J i_e rfio/y 



N-4J7 



Remiremonr 



Maxonchampi 




Gerardmer 



XXX 

I IV I luft 



Sf. Louof 



IfFougeroltas 



JRupt 

■^^^WtfWPf ^3081^198 

Chene 

i.e 7Mtof' 



I Faucogney 




MAP 16 



APPROACHING THE GAPS: SAVERNE 



259 



Ste. Helene-Vimenil area by the 29th 
abreast of one another. The month 
thus ended with all three of the 45th 
Division's regiments on a north-south 
line below Rambervillers facing the 
Vosges Mountains. 

In the middle and southern sectors 
of the VI Corps' offensive, the progress 
of the 36th and 3d Divisions through 
the Vosges foothills was much slower. 
Aiming directly for Bruyeres, the 36th 
Division's 143d Infantry took two days 
to break through units of the 716th Di- 
vision defending the area west of 
Tendon, while the 142d, with the 141st 
securing its right flank, did little better 
against elements of the 198th Division 
to the south. On the 27th the 142d 
managed to advance over the Tendon- 
Le Tholy road, Route D-ll, the main 
lateral German communications line in 
the region; and on the 28th the 141st 
regiment, relieved of its flank security 
mission by units of the 3d Division, 
moved in between the 143d and 142d 
regiments at Tendon for a concerted 
push on Bruyeres. But the prognosis 
for a rapid breakthrough was poor. 
The terrain was now channeling the 
36th Division's upward advance into 
narrow, easily defensible corridors 
where the Germans were attempting to 
concentrate their defensive strength. 

South of the 36th, the 3d Division 
found itself in a similar situation. 
There O'Daniel had finally brought the 
30th regiment as far as Rupt on the 
Moselle, allowing the 15th and 7th to 
begin moving into the Vosges east of 
the river on 27 September, but leaving 
the area south of Rupt under German 
control. Once inside the Vosges, the 
experienced 3d Division infantrymen 
also found the going tough. Although 
the attacking units tried to bypass 



German defenses on the roads to Ger- 
ardmer by side-stepping behind the 
141st regiment in the St. Ame region 
and striking northeast toward Le 
Tholy, the results were the same. Thus 
by the end of September Truscott's 
forces in the north had easily reached 
Phase Line IV, but those in the center 
and south, the units that had actually 
begun moving into the mountains, 
were hardly beyond Phase Line II. Ob- 
viously a quick thrust over the Vosges 
was unlikely, and Devers and Patch 
became even more convinced that their 
strength might be better used reducing 
the German defenses in the Saverne 
Gap area north of the High Vosges. 

XV Corps Before the Saverne Gap (25-30 
September) 

By 25 September General Patton, 
the Third Army commander, had al- 
ready set in motion a XV Corps oper- 
ation that was to continue well after 
the corps had been transferred to the 
6th Army Group. News that the Third 
Army would have to go on the defen- 
sive had aroused Patton's innate op- 
portunism, and he had prevailed 
upon General Bradley to permit the 
Third Army to undertake some 
"local" operations to straighten out 
his lines, securing better defensive 
terrain and better positions from 
which to launch future Third Army 
offensives. In this process, Patton 
wanted Haislip's XV Corps to expand 
its control of Luneville, a railroad and 
highway hub close to the confluence 
of the Meurthe and Vezouse rivers 
and some ei ghteen m iles north of 
Rambervillers 



{Map 17) 



Although elements of the Third 
Army's XII Corps had first entered 




MAP 17 



APPROACHING THE GAPS: SAVERNE 



261 



Luneville on 16 September, they had 
been unable to clear the city com- 
pletely by the 20th when Haislip's XV 
Corps took over the sector. Haislip 
immediately tasked Wyche's 79th Di- 
vision with rooting out the last 
German defenders and securing two 
thickly wooded areas to the east, the 
Parroy and Mondon forests. The two 
forests flanked the main roads to Sar- 
rebourg, providing cover and conceal- 
ment for German forces guarding the 
approaches to the Saverne Gap, and 
would have to be cleared before the 
XV Corps could move farther east. 

While the 79th Division's 315th 
regiment mopped up the Luneville 
area, Wyche's other two regiments, 
the 313th and 314th Infantry, moved 
into the Mondon forest, sweeping 
through most of the woods by 23 
September. Then, while Leclerc's 
French units finished policing the 
light German resistance at the south- 
ern edge of the forest, all three 79th 
Division infantry regiments moved up 
to forward assembly areas on the 
southern bank of the Vezouse River 
and prepared to move into the Parroy 
forest on the 25th. 8 

The German Situation in the Luneville 
Sector 

As the 79th Division massed on the 
Vezouse River, General Balck, the Army 
Group G commander, was facing a rap- 
idly deteriorating situation. 9 On his 



8 For details on the Mondon forest operation, see 
Cole, The Lorraine Campaign, pp. 233-35. 

'German material in this chapter is based largely 
on John W. Mosenthal, "The Establishment of a 
Continuous Defensive Front by Army Group G, 15 
September-1 October 1944," CMH MS R-68; and 
ibid., "The Battle for the Foret de Parroy, 28 Sep- 
tember-17 October 1944," CMH MS R-74 (both in- 



northern wing, from Luxembourg to 
Vic-sur-Seille, fourteen miles north of 
Luneville, Army Group G's First Army was 
heavily engaged across most of its 75- 
mile-wide front. Along Army Group G's 
center, the Fifth Panzer Army, with a 
thirty-mile front from Vic-sur-Seille to 
Rambervillers, had been roughly han- 
dled by Patton's Third Army and was 
currently capable of little more than 
defending in place. South of Ramber- 
villers, the Nineteenth Army continued to 
occupy its ninety-mile front to the 
Swiss border, but was having increas- 
ing problems holding back the 6th 
Army Group as the Seventh and First 
French Armies brought more of their 
forces into the front lines. However, 
for Balck, a penetration of Army Group 
G's center presented the gravest 
danger: a drive through the Saverne 
Gap could split his armies, isolating the 
forces in the High Vosges; a drive 
north of Saverne into the Saar industri- 
al basin would have about the same 
military effect but would also severely 
damage Germany's strategic war- 
making capabilities. From his perspec- 
tive then, Truscott's advance into the 
Vosges or de Lattre's demonstrations 
outside of the Belfort Gap were rela- 
tively unimportant. 

Balck viewed the center of his de- 
fensive line with great concern. The 
Rhine-Marne Canal, running east and 
west about six miles north of Lune- 
ville and just off the northern edge of 
the Forest of Parroy, divided the Fifth 
Panzer Army's sector into two parts: 
LVIII Panzer Corps operating north of 
the canal and XLVII Panzer Corps to 



corporated into von Luttichau, "German Oper- 
ations," as chs. 17 and 18). See also Cole, The Lor- 
raine Campaign, chs. 4 and 5. 



262 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



the south. (The canal also marked the 
boundary between the Third Army's 
XII and XV Corps.) Since 12 Septem- 
ber the Fifth Panzer Army, under Gen- 
eral von Manteuffel, had been en- 
gaged in a series of costly armored 
counterattacks against the Third 
Army's right flank. Although these 
operations had slowed Patton's ad- 
vance, they had also virtually decimat- 
ed the armor available to von Man- 
teuffel. As of 25 September both the 
Fifth Panzer Army and its two corps 
were panzer in name only. At the 
time, the LVlll Panzer Corps was con- 
tinuing its fruitless counterattacks 
against the XII Corps, but the XLVII 
Panzer Corps had abandoned its at- 
tempts to recapture Luneville on the 
23d, apparently when General Balck 
learned from OKW that the 108th 
Panzer Brigade, until then slated for 
commitment in the Luneville sector, 
was to be transferred farther north. 
This unexpected loss of armor may 
have also influenced the German de- 
cision to abandon the Forest of 
Mondon and to withdraw the XLVII 
Panzer Corps' right flank north across 
the Vezouse River. 

The new line that Lt. Gen. Heinrich 
Freiherr von Luettwitz, commanding 
the XLVII Panzer Corps, was to hold 
originated at Henamenil, on the 
Rhine-Marne Canal about six miles 
northeast of Luneville, passed south 
across the western face of the Forest 
of Parroy to the north bank of the Ve- 
zouse near Croismare, and then ran 
southeast along the Vezouse about 
seven miles to the vicinity of Fre- 
menil. Here the defenses — which 
were hasty in nature — crossed back 
over the Vezouse and followed a 
ridge line south past Ogeviller and 



Hablainville for about seven miles to 
Baccarat. The corps also maintained a 
salient at Azerailles, three miles 
northwest of Baccarat, to block Route 
N-59, leading southeast from Lune- 
ville. For the moment Balck and von 
Manteuffel decided to leave the de- 
fensive dispositions of the Fifth Panzer 
Army unchanged in the south, from 
Baccarat to Rambervillers, but both 
commanders remained concerned 
about the possibility of a VI Corps 
drive on the Saverne Gap from the vi- 
cinity of Rambervillers. 10 

Defending the new line from the 
Rhine-Marne Canal to Fremenil was 
the responsibility of the 15th Panzer 
Grenadier Division. The rest of von 
Luettwitz's sector was held by the vir- 
tually tankless 21st Panzer Division; 
Group Oelsner, a provisional infantry 
regiment; and part of the 113th Panzer 
Brigade. Some troops of the 16th Divi- 
sion were also in the XLVII Panzer 
Corps' area, while in reserve was the 
112th Panzer Brigade, reduced to less 
than ten tanks. 11 In case of a dire 
emergency, General von Luettwitz 
could call on several fortress battal- 
ions digging in along forward Weststel- 
lung positions about fifteen miles east 
of Luneville. 

Understrength to begin with, the 
15th Panzer Grenadier Division also 



10 Baccarat was also on the army boundary, with 
Route N-435, which ran north-northeast from Ram- 
bervillers to Baccarat, marking the intra-army 
border. 

11 Most of the rebuilding 16th Division was in the 
sector of LXVI Corps, Nineteenth Army, to the south of 
XLVII Panzer Corps. But during the latter part of 
September, units and parts of units shifted rapidly 
back and forth between the zones of the XLVII and 
LVIII Panzer Corps and other areas, making an accu- 
rate order of battle for the Fifth Panzer Army difficult 
to establish. 



APPROACHING THE GAPS: SA VERNE 



263 



lacked some of its organic units. 12 For 
example, a regimental headquarters, a 
panzer grenadier battalion, an anti- 
tank company, and a battery of artil- 
lery were deployed well to the north 
with the First Army, while a battalion 
of artillery and a tank company were 
operating north of the Rhine-Marne 
Canal with the LVIII Panzer Corps. 
Shortages were especially acute in the 
infantry (panzer grenadier) elements, 
where most battalions had fewer than 
350 troops, less than half their au- 
thorized strength. On the other hand, 
von Luettwitz had been able to beef 
up the division with several provision- 
al forces — units with limited offensive 
capabilities, but adequate for defense. 
In the Parroy forest the division had 
deployed the 1st and 3d Battalions, of 
its 104th Panzer Grenadier Regiment; 
Blocking Detachment Berkenhoff, an in- 
fantry battalion largely made up of 
Luftwaffe personnel; seven to ten tanks 
or self-propelled assault guns; and 
more mortars, artillery, and antitank 
pieces. Additional artillery em placed 
on rising ground east of the woods 
had likely targets within the forest 
carefully registered. Effective German 
infantry strength in the forest was ini- 
tially about 1,200, with total troop 
strength probably less than 2,000. 

The Forest of Parroy 

Well before the XII Corps entered 
Luneville on 16 September, the Fifth 
Panzer Army had established bases and 
depots deep in the Forest of Parroy, 
using its cover as an assembly area 



for troops and armor mounting coun- 
terattacks against the Third Army's 
right flank. Subsequently, the forest 
had served the same purpose during 
German attempts to recapture Lune- 
ville, and German artillery hidden in 
the forest had continued to harass XV 
Corps' positions and lines of commu- 
nication in the Luneville area. Von 
Luettwitz knew he would have to 
make a stand in the forest, not only to 
hold back American progress toward 
the Weststellung and the Saverne Gap, 
but also to protect the southern flank 
of the LVIII Panzer Corps as the latter 
continued its armored counterattacks 
in the sector north of the Rhine- 
Marne Canal. 

Roughly ovoid in shape, the Forest 
of Parroy extends about six miles 
west to east and over four miles north 
to south, covering an area of nearly 



12 As of about 25 September the division had an 
authorized strength of 16,140, but an on-duty 
strength of approximately 11,930. 



thirty square miles {Map 18) Much of 
the forest area is tlat, but thickly 
wooded with mostly secondary 
growth of hardwoods, a few stands of 
older, bigger timber, and an occasion- 
al patch of conifers. Unlike most Eu- 
ropean forests, the Parroy was also 
characterized by a thick undergrowth 
that drastically limited observation 
and visibility. One third-class east- 
west route, the Haut de la Fait Road, 
passed through the center of the 
forest where it bisected the equally 
poor north-south Bossupre Road. In 
addition, the forest was crisscrossed 
with fire lanes, logging tracks, and 
beds of abandoned narrow-gauge rail- 
roads of World War I vintage, most 
of which could accommodate armored 
vehicles, but on a strictly one-way 
basis. Other features included dete- 
riorated trenches and minor defensive 
installations dating back to World 



264 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 




MAP 18 

War I. To these the defenders had 
added mines, barbed wire, road and 
trail blocks, new trenches, and 
timber-roofed dugouts; while the 
poor September weather produced 
cold and often torrential rains, fog 
and mist, mud, and swampy spots — all 
of which made the Forest of Parroy 
an unpleasant place in which to 
travel, let alone fight a pitched battle. 

In the fluid combat conditions that 
had existed earlier in September 
1944, the bulk of XV Corps might 
well have bypassed the Forest of 
Parroy, leaving follow-up forces to 
surround, isolate, and clear any Ger- 
mans that remained. But with the 
limits imposed on offensive oper- 
ations, General Patton decided to 
secure the area by force in order to 



acquire better positions for subse- 
quent XV Corps attacks. If undis- 
turbed, German infantry, artillery, 
and armor in the forest could control 
the main highway (N-4) leading to 
Sarrebourg and the Saverne Gap, se- 
verely hampering a rapid advance 
eastward. 

General Wyche, with Haislip's ap- 
proval, had originally planned a fron- 
tal attack from the west combined 
with a single envelopment on the east 
side of the forest. After meeting little 
German opposition in the Mondon 
forest, the two commanders expected 
the same here, hoping that the 106th 
Cavalry Group and one infantry regi- 
ment of the 79th Division could 
sweep through the forest, while an ar- 
mored task force of the French 2d Ar- 



APPROACHING THE GAPS: SAVERNE 265 






Parroy Forest 



mored Division struck northeast 
across the Vezouse River to isolate 
the woods on the east. The operation 
was to begin on 25 September after 
heavy Allied air strikes. 

From the start, little went according 
to plan. Poor flying weather forced 
postponement of the air strikes, and 
Wyche was unable to start his attack 
until the 25th. In the interim, Leclerc 
had sent a small force over the Ve- 
zouse, but German artillery fire broke 
up the French infantry formations and 
the soggy ground confined the 
French armor to the roads, leading 
Leclerc to pull his units south, back 
across the river, before the 79th Divi- 
sion had even begun its assault into 



the forest. 

Continued inclement weather 
caused Wyche to postpone air and 
ground attacks on the 26th and 27th, 
and finally Haislip decided to relieve 
Leclerc's division of its part of the op- 
eration and leave the entire task to 
Wyche. Meanwhile, American patrols 
into the forest had discovered that 
the Germans were preparing to 
defend the woods in strength. Ac- 
cordingly, Wyche revised his plans, 
deciding to send two infantry regi- 
ments into the forest from the west 
while the cavalry group screened the 
area to the north along the Rhine- 
Marne Canal. Abandoning the whole 
concept of isolating the forest on the 



266 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



east, both Haislip and Wyche prob- 
ably felt that a less complex ap- 
proach — concentrating their superior 
artillery and infantry resources in one 
sector — was the best solution consid- 
ering the terrain and weather. 

The American attack into the 
Parroy forest finally began on 28 Sep- 
tember, one day before the XV Corps 
was to pass to 6th Army Group con- 
trol. The air attack began at 1400 fol- 
lowed by the ground assault of the 
313th and 315th Infantry at 1630 that 
afternoon. However, of the 288 
bombers and fighter-bombers sched- 
uled to participate in the preparatory 
strikes, only 37 actually arrived, again 
because of poor flying conditions; 
and the results of the 37-plane attack 
against a target covering some thirty 
square miles were negligible. In addi- 
tion, the two-hour interval between 
the last air strikes and the beginning 
of the 79th Division's ground attack 
gave the Germans ample time to re- 
cover from whatever shock effect the 
limited bombardment may have had. 
As a result the 79th Division infantry- 
men found themselves locked in a 
bitter struggle with the German de- 
fenders as soon as they began to pen- 
etrate the forest. 

Even as the 79th Division began its 
attack, General Balck was again reas- 
sessing the situation in the area. 
North of the Rhine-Marne Canal the 
LVIII Panzer Corps' counterattacks had 
ground to a halt with more heavy 
losses in German armor and infantry. 
With no reinforcements, Balck in- 
structed the Fifth Panzer Army to go on 
the defensive all across its front. To 
protect the Saverne Gap, he regarded 
both the Forest of Parroy and the 
Rambervillers sector as critical. Be- 



lieving the latter to be more vulnera- 
ble, however, he instructed von Man- 
teuffel and Wiese on the 29th to give 
defensive priority to the Ramber- 
villers area, where the French 2d Ar- 
mored Division and the VI Corps' 
45th Infantry Division threatened the 
boundary between the two armies. To 
assist von Manteuffel in this task, he 
moved the boundary of the Fifth 
Panzer Army eleven miles south of 
Rambervillers, making the XLVII 
Panzer Corps responsible for the area. 
Von Manteuffel, in turn, moved his 
internal corps boundary south, allow- 
ing the LVIII Panzer Corps, under Lt. 
Gen. Walter Krueger, to direct the 
defense of the Parroy forest, while the 
XLVII Panzer Corps concentrated its ef- 
forts in the Rambervillers-Baccarat 
region. 

Simultaneously Balck and von Man- 
teuffel reorganized the Fifth Panzer 
Army in order to simplify command 
and control problems, consolidating 
battered units and strengthening ex- 
isting divisions. In the process, the 
11th Panzer Division absorbed what was 
left of the 111th Panzer Brigade; the 
21st Panzer Division took over the 
112th Panzer Brigade (less a battalion 
of the 112th Panzer Grenadier Regiment, 
which went to the 16th Infantry Divi- 
sion); and the hard-hit 113th Panzer 
Brigade was incorporated into the 15th 
Panzer Grenadier Division. This left Army 
Group G with only one panzer brigade 
in reserve, the 106th, which had not 
yet arrived from the First Army's area, 
and Balck and von Manteuffel made 
tentative plans to commit this brigade 
in the Rambervillers area. 

Balck ended the month of Septem- 
ber by admonishing his three army 
commanders not to surrender any 



APPROACHING THE GAPS: SAVERNE 



267 



ground "voluntarily." Every penetra- 
tion of the forward lines was to be re- 
stored by an immediate counterattack. 
Too often, Balck informed them, re- 
serve forces had been frittered away 
by premature commitments to weak 
points and to sections of the front 
only presumably threatened. In the 
future, all withdrawals would need his 
personal approval and would only be 
authorized if they improved current 
defensive positions. The Hitler order 
still stood — to hold west of the West- 
stellung in order to allow completion 
and garrisoning of fortifications there. 
The defense of the Parroy forest 
would represent the first test of 
Balck's orders. 

The Forest and the Fight 

During these deliberations the U.S. 
79th Division and the German 15th 
Panzer Grenadier Division had been bat- 
tling throughout the western section 
of the Parroy forest. The 79th had at- 
tacked from the west with two regi- 
ments abreast — the 315th Infantry 
north of the Fait Road and the 313th 
Infantry to the south. Both regiments 
made painfully slow progress against 
determined German resistance, and, 
by evening on the 30th, the attacking 
infantry had penetrated scarcely over 
a mile into the dense forest. During 
this period the fighting quickly fell 
into a pattern that continued through- 
out the battle. Abandoning any at- 
tempt at a linear defense, the Ger- 
mans maintained a thin screening line 
opposite the Allied advance and con- 
centrated their troops at various 
strongpoints. By day, German for- 
ward artillery observers, hidden in 
prepared positions, called down pre- 



determined artillery or mortar bar- 
rages on advancing American troops; 
and the concentrations were often fol- 
lowed by small infantry-armored 
counterattacks moving at an oblique 
angle down one of the firebreaks or 
dirt tracks. During the night, smaller 
German infantry patrols attempted to 
infiltrate the flanks and rear of the at- 
tacking American forces, disorganiz- 
ing them and interfering with resup- 
ply efforts. Often when one American 
unit was forced back, the others 
stopped their forward progress to 
avoid exposing their flanks to further 
German attacks. Poor visibility in the 
forest compounded American com- 
mand and control problems, and the 
frequent German counterattacks put 
the attackers on the defensive much 
of the time. Again and again disorga- 
nized American units were forced to 
fall back, reorganize, and launch 
counterattacks of their own to regain 
lost ground. 

On 1 October both sides sent rein- 
forcements into the battle. The LVHI 
Panzer Corps deployed two battalions 
of the 113th Panzer Grenadier Regiment, 
113th Panzer Brigade, into the forest 
accompanied by additional armor. On 
the American side, Wyche sent his 
third infantry regiment, the 314th, 
into the fray. The division command- 
er wanted the 314th Infantry to move 
into the forest from the south, just 
east of the main penetration, and 
push against the flank of the defend- 
ers facing the 313th Infantry, allowing 
that regiment to drop back in a re- 
serve role. 

Although well executed, the maneu- 
ver did not seem to shake loose the 
German defenses. The 79th Division's 
progress remained painfully slow and 



268 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



it was not until 3 October that the 
last battalion of the 313th Infantry 
was relieved. On the same day the 
Germans once again reinforced their 
troops in the forest, this time with the 
2d Battalion of the 104th Panzer Grena- 
dier Regiment, 15th Panzer Grenadier Di- 
vision, and a few more tanks and self- 
propelled guns. Wyche, meanwhile, 
with Haislip's approval, shortened the 
front line of the 315th Infantry by 
making the 106th Cavalry Group re- 
sponsible for the northern part of the 
American advance and allowing the 
315th to concentrate its forces just 
above the Fait Road. Between 4 and 6 
October, American infantry units re- 
newed their attacks, pushing eastward 
through the middle of the forest and 
overrunning several German strong- 
points near the juncture of the Fait 
and Bossupre roads. The Germans 
then counterattacked with the under- 
strength 11th Panzer Reconnaissance 
Battalion (from the 11th Panzer Divi- 
sion), forcing elements of the 315th 
Infantry back from the crossroads. 
But elsewhere the Americans held 
their ground. Temporarily exhausted, 
both sides spent 7 and 8 October pa- 
trolling, reorganizing, and resupply- 
ing their forces and, in the American 
camp, preparing to resume the offen- 
sive on the morning of the 9th. 

The new attack began with a diver- 
sionary demonstration at daybreak by 
the 1st Battalion, 313th Infantry, rein- 
forced with tanks, south of the forest. 
Evidently, the ruse met with some 
success, for the Germans shelled the 
roads along the Vezouse throughout 
the morning and provided little direct 
fire support to their troops in the 
Parroy forest. There XV Corps and 
79th Division artillery laid down the 



heaviest preparatory barrage of the 
entire operation, clearing the way for 
the main attack which began at 0650, 
with ample artillery support on call. 
Initially two battalions of the 315th 
Infantry drove eastward north of the 
Fait Road, while the 3d Battalion, 
315th Infantry, and the 2d Battalion, 
314th Infantry, concentrated against 
the German strongpoint at the central 
crossroads, finally overrunning that 
position about 1800. Meanwhile, two 
battalions of the 313th Infantry 
moved into the line south of the 2d 
Battalion, 314th Infantry, and pushed 
eastward south of the crossroads; still 
farther south the rest of the 314th In- 
fantry aggressively patrolled through 
the southern third of the forest. At 
dusk the 79th Division's center had 
advanced only a mile and a half 
beyond the central crossroads, but 
the infantry commanders hopefully 
noted that German resistance was be- 
ginning to diminish. 

During the evening of 9 October 
Krueger outlined the status of his 
forces to von Manteuffel and reported 
that he was unable to restore the situ- 
ation with the forces available. The 
loss of the interior roads and the cen- 
tral strongpoints made further defen- 
sive efforts costly, especially if the 
Americans began to threaten the 15th 
Panzer Grenadier Division's routes of 
withdrawal. The only uncommitted 
forces were two battalions (with an 
aggregate strength of about 550 
troops) of the division's 115th Panzer 
Grenadier Regiment and two fortress 
battalions, 13 but using these units 
would deprive the defenders of their 



l3 The 1416th Fortress Infantry Battalion and the 51st 
Fortress Machine Gun Battalion. 



APPROACHING THE GAPS: SAVERNE 



269 



last reserves and leave no maneuver 
units for operations east of the forest. 
Accordingly, the LVIII Panzer Corps 
commander requested permission to 
withdraw from the Parroy forest to a 
new defensive line, and the Fifth 
Panzer Army and Army Group G had no 
choice but to approve the request. 

Except for some rear-guard detach- 
ments, the main body of German 
troops in the forest withdrew during 
the night of 9-10 October to a new 
defensive line several miles east of 
the woods, tying in with the XLVII 
Panzer Corps' 21st Panzer Division at 
Domjevin, with the intercorps bound- 
ary later moving a few miles south to 
Ogeviller. German losses during the 
fight for the Forest of Parroy, 28 Sep- 
tember through 9 October, numbered 
approximately 125 men killed, 350 
wounded, over 700 missing (most of 
them taken prisoner), and about 50 
evacuated for various sicknesses. 14 
More significant, however, they had 
now lost their principal forward de- 
fensive position along the approaches 
to the Saverne Gap. 

More Reorganizations 

During 11 and 12 October, the 
79th Division and the 106th Cavalry 
Group cleared the remainder of the 
forest and pushed on to the new 
German defensive lines to the east. A 
final advance by all the 79th's regi- 
ments on the 13th managed to secure 



"The German casualty figures in the text are 
based on various figures given in Mosenthal, CMH 
MS R-74. A thorough search of 106th Cavalry 
Group, 79th Division, XV Corps, and Seventh Army 
files failed to produce any usable casualty figures for 
the 106th Cavalry Group and the 79th Division 
during the period 28 September through 9 October. 



Embermenil, in the center of the 
German line, but elsewhere the divi- 
sion made only limited progress in 
the face of heavy German artillery 
and mortar fire and flooded ground. 
Thereafter the dispositions of the di- 
vision remained essentially un- 
changed. 

The subsequent inactivity of the XV 
Corps was due in part to the rede- 
ployment of many Third Army sup- 
port units, which had to be returned 
by the 15th. At the request of General 
Devers, Bradley agreed to allow Hais- 
lip to retain two heavy field artillery 
battalions, but the XV Corps lost four 
field artillery battalions, four antiair- 
craft gun battalions, a three-battalion 
engineer combat group, a tank de- 
stroyer battalion, and some lesser 
units, forcing Haislip to pause while 
he redistributed his remaining sup- 
port forces. 

On the German side Army Group B 
was once again to be strengthened at 
the expense of Army Group G, not only 
to satisfy Army Group B's immediate 
requirements, but also in preparation 
for the Ardennes offensive scheduled 
for December. 15 The bulk of the 15th 
Panzer Grenadier Division withdrew 
from its lines opposite the 79th Divi- 
sion during the night of 15-16 Octo- 
ber, and on 17 October the sector 
passed to the control of the 553d 
Volksgrenadier Division, 16 with an effec- 



15 For the planning and buildup for the Ardennes, 
see Hugh M. Cole, The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge, 
United States Army in World War II (Washington, 
1965), chs. 1-3. 

16 The German Army began forming Volksgrenadier 
("people's grenadier") divisions in August and Sep- 
tember 1944. The new divisions had a rather aus- 
tere authorized strength of around 12,000 troops. 
Division artillery consisted of three instead of four 
battalions; there was no divisional antitank battalion; 



270 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



tive infantry strength of no more than 
a few battalions. To bolster the divi- 
sion for its defensive mission, Army 
Group G reinforced it with the 1416th 
Fortress Infantry Battalion, the 56th For- 
tress Machine Gun Battalion, and the 42d 
Panzer Grenadier Replacement Battalion. 

Next, the Fifth Panzer Army head- 
quarters passed to Army Group B 's 
control on 16 October, leaving Army 
Group G with only two subordinate 
army commands, the First and the 
Nineteenth. The First Army assumed 
command of the LVIII Panzer Corps in 
the north, and the Nineteenth Army 
took control of the XLVII Panzer Corps 
in the south. A new boundary, sepa- 
rating the First and Nineteenth Armies, 
began at Ogeviller and ran northeast 
across the Vosges to pass a few miles 
north of Strasbourg. The XLVII 
Panzer Corps' attachment to the Nine- 
teenth Army was short-lived, and one 
day later, on 17 September, OB West 
also transferred this headquarters to 
Army Group B's control, providing the 
Nineteenth Army with the LXXXIX Corps 
headquarters as a substitute. 

Logistical problems, bad weather, 
and, apparently, slow intelligence 
analysis helped prevent the 79th Divi- 
sion from taking advantage of the 
German redeployments east of the 
Parroy forest. Moreover, the XV 
Corps was waiting for the 44th Infan- 



and service elements were greatly reduced. On the 
other hand the infantry elements, armed primarily 
with automatic weapons, had markedly more fire- 
power than the infantry of standard divisions; fur- 
thermore, the infantry regiments and battalions of 
the Volksgrenadier divisions had their own organic 
antitank weapons. Most were built on the remnants 
of older divisions shattered during the earlier fight- 
ing in France or on the eastern front; for example, 
553d Volksgrenadier Division was formed around cadre 
and veterans of the 553d Infantry Division. 



try Division — the new third division 
that Eisenhower had promised Devers 
in September — to reach the front 
before the 79th Division resumed the 
offensive. The 44th Division, under 
the command of Maj. Gen. Robert L. 
Spragins, closed its assembly area 
near Luneville on 17 October and 
during the next few days took over 
79th Division positions from the vi- 
cinity of Embermenil south to the Ve- 
zouse River, while the 79th concen- 
trated on a narrower front for a new 
attack. 

On 21 and 22 October the three 
regiments of the 79th Division, ad- 
vancing abreast across a front of 
almost two and a half miles, gained 
nearly a mile and a half in a north- 
easterly direction from Embermenil, 
thus securing better defensive terrain 
as well as better observation of 
German positions. On the 23d the 
44th Division started to relieve the 
79th Division in place, which then 
began a much needed rest. Tragically, 
for General Patch, commanding the 
Seventh Army, the relief came two 
days too late. His son, Capt. Alexan- 
der M. Patch III, commanding Com- 
pany C of the 315th Infantry, was 
killed by German mortar fire on 22 
October, and the army commander 
was to feel the loss deeply for many 
months to come. 

For the remainder of October the 
44th Infantry Division played a rather 
static role, but one that prepared the 
new division for forthcoming offen- 
sive actions. Its activities were limited 
mostly to patrols and artillery duels, 
and little attempt was made to gain 
new ground. Elements of the 106th 
Cavalry Group maintained contact 
with Third Army units along the line 



APPROACHING THE GAPS: SAVERNE 



271 



of the Rhine-Marne Canal and under- 
took limited reconnaissance, but 
adopted a generally defensive atti- 
tude. 

To the south, the French 2d Ar- 
mored Division continued to rest and 
refit. From 30 September to 3 Octo- 
ber, units of the division had support- 
ed the advance of the VI Corps' 45th 
Division to the Rambervillers area, 
culminating in several sharp engage- 
ments along the Rambervillers-Bac- 
carat highway. On the 3d the French 
armor was relieved of its responsibil- 
ities in the zone by the VI Corps' 
1 1 7th Cavalry Squadron, and, as 
planned, the division went on the de- 
fensive for the remainder of the 
month. 

During this period the French divi- 
sion kept three of its four combat 
commands 17 in the line, rotating each 



17 Unlike other French and American armored di- 
visions, the 2d French Armored Division normally 
operated with four rather than three combat com- 
mands. The fourth, CCR, was named after its com- 
mander, Col. Jean S. Remy, who in the division's 
administrative structure was also the commander of 



to the rear for sorely needed rest, re- 
habilitation, and vehicle maintenance. 
From 3 through 30 October the divi- 
sion lost approximately 35 men killed 
and 140 wounded, most of them as a 
result of German artillery or mortar 
fire. 18 As dusk came on the 30th, the 
division was preparing to launch an 
attack to seize Baccarat, an operation 
that once again would alarm the 
German high command and divert 
their attention from the more direct 
approaches to the Saverne Gap. 



the division's organic reconnaissance squadron, the 
1st Moroccan Spahis Regiment. CCR's basic organi- 
zation consisted of the headquarters and one troop 
of the 1st Moroccan Spahis, an armored infantry 
company, a towed antitank company, a battery of ar- 
mored field artillery, and a platoon of combat engi- 
neers. Other units were added as dictated by cir- 
cumstances and missions. CCR was, in effect, a per- 
manent reconnaissance-in-force organization, but 
could also be employed as a ready reserve if the tac- 
tical situation called for it. 

18 Total XV Corps casualties for the month of Oc- 
tober, including those of the 2d French Armored 
Division, numbered about 365 men killed, 2,310 
wounded, 165 missing, and 2,410 nonbattle. During 
the month XV Corps received 5,720 replacements 
or returnees, and the corps captured over 1,760 
Germans. 



CHAPTER XV 

The Road to St. Die 



At the beginning of October, the 
American commanders, Generals 
Devers, Patch, Truscott, and Haislip, 
realized that their personnel and 
supply problems made it impossible 
to launch a general offensive, even if 
approved by SHAEF. Before any 
major operations could be undertak- 
en, their troops had to be rested, re- 
placements brought up and trained, 
and supply stocks, especially ammuni- 
tion and fuel, built up in the forward 
area. During this process, front-line 
infantry strength would have to be re- 
duced by about one-third as infantry 
battalions were pulled out of the line 
for brief periods of rest and rehabili- 
tation. For a while, no regiment could 
plan to have more than two of its 
three infantry battalions at the front 
at any one time. The expectation that 
the poor weather experienced in late 
September would only worsen during 
October made ammunition stockpil- 
ing even more necessary. Difficult 
flying conditions greatly reduced the 
amount of air support the ground 
troops could count on and increased 
the reliance on artillery and mortar 
fire. 

Tactical considerations also militat- 
ed against a hasty push to the east. 
All the roads from the Seventh 



Army's base areas along the Moselle 
River led steadily upward into the 
thickly forested Vosges, terrain in 
which the Germans would continue to 
have every conceivable defensive ad- 
vantage. The steep, wooded hills were 
rarely traversable by vehicles, even by 
the lighter American tanks and half- 
tracks, while the narrow mountain 
roads were easily interdicted; further- 
more, heavy vegetation made it diffi- 
cult to direct accurate artillery and 
mortar fire or to employ direct air 
support. The forests also tended to 
compartmentalize the battlefield, 
making it easy for advancing units to 
become widely separated and vulnera- 
ble to infiltration and enemy flanking 
attacks. 

The VI Corps 

On a larger scale, Truscott was in- 
creasingly concerned over the difficul- 
ty in securing a deep but narrow ad- 
vance into the mountains. The VI 
Corps could not push very far east 
and northeast of Rambervillers with- 
out dangerously exposing its northern 
flank. To avoid such a situation, Patch 
and Truscott had hoped that Haislip's 
XV Corps would have been able to 
clear the Parroy forest rapidly and 



THE ROAD TO ST. DIE 



273 



then begin a drive northeast of Ram- 
bervillers abreast of the VI Corps. 
The tenacious German defense of the 
Parroy forest, however, destroyed 
whatever ideas the two commanders 
may have entertained in that regard 
before October was a week old. As a 
result, the XV Corps was unable to 
launch any offensive operations in the 
southern sector of its zone, and the 
VI Corps was forced to commit siza- 
ble forces in the Rambervillers area 
throughout October in order to 
secure its northern flank. 

On the VI Corps' right, or south- 
ern, flank, a similar situation pre- 
vailed. There the French II Corps had 
been stalled in the foothills of the 
Vosges, and the situation was further 
complicated by the diverging courses 
of the two Allied armies, the Ameri- 
can Seventh moving northeast and 
the French First advancing east. Nev- 
ertheless, both Patch and Truscott 
were willing to take the risks that ac- 
companied a unilateral VI Corps 
attack. Both regarded a complete ces- 
sation of offensive activity as extreme- 
ly dangerous, giving the Germans too 
much time to build and man defenses 
throughout the Vosges as well as to 
rehabilitate their own depleted divi- 
sions. 

Despite their tactical and logistical 
limitations, Patch and Truscott still 
favored a limited VI Corps offensive 
in October. While neither expected a 
quick breakthrough to Strasbourg, 
they believed that the city of St. Die 
was a reasonable objective. On the 
Meurthe River deep in the heart of 
the Vosges, St. Die was an industrial, 
road, rail, and communications center 
that VI Corps would have to seize if 
any drive northeast across the Vosges 



was to succeed. Route N-59 and the 
principal trans-Vosges railroad came 
into St. Die from the north, through 
Luneville and Baccarat; Route N-420 
and the railroad led northeast from 
St. Die through the Saales Pass, on 
the most direct route to Strasbourg; 
N-59 continued east from St. Die 
through the Ste. Marie Pass to Seles- 
tat, on the Alsatian plain between 
Strasbourg and Colmar; Route N-415 
led south and then east through the 
Bonhomme Pass to Colmar; and 
Route D-8 branched off N-415 on its 
way south to Gerardmer, Route N- 
417, and the Schlucht Pass. Posses- 
sion of the Meurthe River mountain 
town was thus vital to the Allied ad- 
vance, and the Germans could be ex- 
pected to defend it vigorously if al- 
lowed the time to reorganize and 
strengthen their forces. 

VI Corps' most direct route to St. 
Die started at Jarmenil, on the Mo- 
selle about midway between Epinal 
and Remiremont. This axis followed 
the valley of the small Vologne River, 
passing through open, flat-to-rolling 
farmland dominated on the north and 
northwest by the relatively low, 
wooded hills and ridges of the Faite 
forest and on the south and east by 
higher, more rugged, forested terrain. 
Route N-59A and then Route D-44 
led northeast along the Vologne 
about ten miles from Jarmenil to the 
small city of Bruyeres, a rail and road 
hub ringed by close-in, steep hills on 
the west, north, and east. From 
Bruyeres, Route N-420 went north 
about two and a half miles to Brouve- 
lieures on the Mortagne River — here 
no more than a brook. Winding and 
hugging the slopes of heavily wooded 
hills, N-420 continued northeast 



274 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



about four miles to Les Rouges Eaux. 
Then the highway climbed and twist- 
ed through a dense coniferous forest 
to emerge in the valley of the Tain- 
trux Creek about two and a half miles 
short of St. Die. The city itself lay on 
flat ground surrounded by wooded 
mountains and hills (some of the hills 
having a peculiar conical shape). The 
Meurthe River, flowing northwest 
through St. Die, was normally too 
slow to be much of an obstacle except 
in a few places where it ran between 
steep banks or manmade retaining 
walls. 

While keeping his sights on St. Die, 
Truscott initially assigned the 45th 
and 36th Divisions the more limited 
goals of seizing the railroad and high- 
way hubs of Bruyeres and Brouve- 
lieures. Eagles' 45th was to make the 
main effort, striking for Brouvelieures 
and Bruyeres from the Rambervillers 
area, while Dahlquist's 36th, advanc- 
ing from the south, was to keep the 
German frontal defenses occupied 
and ultimately assist in clearing 
Bruyeres. 1 The 45th Division's ad- 
vance from Rambervillers would send 
it southeast, down over nine miles of 
forests and country roads along the 
southern side of the Mortagne River 
valley. To the south, the 36th Divi- 
sion would have to clear the Vologne 
River valley and route D-44 from Do- 
celles to Bruyeres, a distance of about 
eight miles. The VI Corps attack to 
seize Bruyeres and Brouvelieures was 
to begin on 1 October, and Truscott 
hoped to have both objectives in 
hand by 8 October at the latest. 



^he change in plans came in VI Corps Fid Msg 
301200A Sep 44; previously Bruyeres had been the 
36th Division's main objective. 



The German Defenses 

The fall of Rambervillers in late 
September had again forced the Ger- 
mans to rethink their defensive dispo- 
sitions. 2 For some time the town had 
marked the boundary between Army 
Group G 's Fifth Panzer Army, which con- 
fronted the Third Army's XV and XII 
Corps, and the Nineteenth Army, which 
faced the Seventh Army's VI Corps 
and all of the First French Army. 
American XV and VI Corps oper- 
ations in the Rambervillers sector had 
threatened to drive a wedge between 
the two German armies as early as 28 
September; at that time the Nineteenth 
Army's LXl/I Corps, consisting largely 
of the rebuilding 16th Infantry Division, 
lacked the strength to restore the sit- 
uation. To consolidate command in 
the Rambervillers area, which he con- 
sidered critical, General Balck of Army 
Group G had transferred control of 
LXVI Corps from the Nineteenth Army to 
the Fifth Panzer Army. But on the 30th, 
Balck had withdrawn the LXVI Corps 
headquarters from the front and 
passed control of the 16th Division to 
the XLVII Panzer Corps, on the Fifth 
Panzer Army's left, or southern, flank. 3 
On the same day Balck also pushed 
the boundary between the Fifth Panzer 
Army and the Nineteenth Army south 
about eleven miles from Ramber- 
villers to a northeast-southwest line 
passing just north of Bruyeres, a line 
that corresponded roughly to the 



2 German information in this chapter is derived 
from von Luttichau, "German Operations," chs. 19- 
21. 

3 LXVI Corps headquarters took on a training mis- 
sion in the vicinity of Colmar and on 6 October 
passed to the control of Army Group B. 



THE ROAD TO ST. DIE 



275 



boundary between the VI Corps' 45th 
and 36th Divisions. 

Thus, at the beginning of October, 
the 2d French Armored Division of 
XV Corps and the 45th Infantry Divi- 
sion of VI Corps faced General von 
Luettwitz's XLVII Panzer Corps, Fifth 
Panzer Army, in the Rambervillers area. 
The panzer corps consisted (north to 
south) of the weak 21st Panzer Division; 
Group Oelsner, a provisional infantry 
regiment made up of security troops, 
engineers, and Luftwaffe retreads, all 
soon to be incorporated into the 1 6th 
Division; and the lamentable 16th In- 
fantry Division itself. The 21st Panzer 
Division had 65 percent of its author- 
ized strength of about 16,675 troops, 
but the unit had little punch left. Its 
22d Panzer Regiment was reduced to 
nine operational tanks, and the 125th 
and 19 2d Panzer Grenadier Regiments 
were down to about 50 percent of 
their authorized strengths. The divi- 
sion's only strong points were its high 
percentage of seasoned veterans and 
its rigorous training program for re- 
placements. The 16th Infantry Division, 
then being reorganized as a volksgrena- 
dier division, 4 had an effective 
strength of about 5,575 ill-trained 
troops, and its three infantry regi- 
ments averaged about 35 percent of 
their authorized strength. The Ger- 
mans rated the division as capable 
only of "limited defense." 

Backing up von Luettwitz's front- 
line units were the fortress troops of 
Group von Claer, with a total strength 
of about 8,000 men. The group's 
principal components were Regiment 



4 The 16th Infantry Division was redesignated the 
/ 6th Volksgrenadier Division on 9 October. 



A/V 5 and provisional Regiment Baur, 
each with five infantry battalions and 
some supporting artillery and antitank 
weapons. But von Luettwitz's control 
over Group von Claer was limited. The 
group's primary mission was to man 
Weststellung positions, and its troops 
could be employed in front-line 
combat only with the expressed per- 
mission of General Balck. 

South of the Bruyeres-St. Die 
boundary between the Fifth Panzer 
Army and the Nineteenth Army stood the 
latter's LXIV Corps, the lines of which 
extended southward about twenty 
miles to Rupt-sur-Moselle. With the 
716th Division and the 198th Division 
(less the 308th Grenadiers) on line from 
north to south, the LXIV Corps, under 
Lt. Gen. Helmut Thumm, faced VI 
Corps' 36th Division as well as most 
of the 3d Division. 6 

General Wiese of Nineteenth Army 
had in reserve the small task force 
from the 11th Panzer Division as well as 
the 103d Panzer Battalion, just arriving 
at St. Die from the First Army'?, sector. 
The 106th Panzer Brigade, intended for 
the Belfort Gap, had not yet arrived 
from First Army, and Balck had laid 
tentative plans to divert the brigade 



5 Regiment A/V was one of four fortress regiments 
organized by Wehrkreis V, an area command some- 
what analagous to the U.S. Army's domestic area 
commands of World War II. With its headquarters 
at Stuttgart, Germany, Wehrkreis V included Alsace 
within its area of responsibility. 

6 At the end of September the 1 89th Division 
( Group von Schwerin ) was still technically part of LXIV 
Corps, but on about 28 September what was left of 
the division, a weak regimental combat team, passed 
to the control of the 1 98th Division. In late October 
the designation 189th Division' was transferred to 
Group Degener of LXXXV Corps, an action undertaken 
to ensure that the provisional Degener organization 
could receive supplies and replacements through 
normal channels. 



276 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



to the critical Rambervillers sector. 
There, Fifth Panzer Army had in re- 
serve Task Force Liehr of the 2 1st 
Panzer Division and what was left of 
Regimental Group Usedom, a unit that 
had launched a counterattack against 
units of the French 2d Armored Divi- 
sion northeast of Rambervillers on 2 
October. 7 Badly damaged during that 
action, Group Usedom then had to dis- 
patch one of its two panzer grenadier 
battalions to bolster the forces de- 
fending the Parroy forest. Losses, re- 
deployments, and blocking commit- 
ments thus left the Fifth Panzer Army 
with no reserve worthy of the name to 
support the XLVII Panzer Corps until 
the 106th Panzer Brigade arrived. 

Von Luettwitz's panzer corps had 
other problems as well: a shortage of 
artillery ammunition; a lack of heavy 
machine guns and mortars; and, 
above all, a critical shortage of infan- 
trymen. Consequently, General von 
Manteuffel, commanding Fifth Panzer 
Army, queried Balck on the possibility 
of withdrawing portions of the panzer 
corps to the east of Rambervillers, 
where it would find better defensive 
terrain. 8 However, the Army Group G 
commander, adhering to his policy of 
no withdrawals and immediate coun- 
terattacks against any and all Allied 
penetrations, refused permission for 
any retreat and likewise turned down 
von Manteuffel's requests for more 



7 Group Usedom's infantry consisted of two panzer 
grenadier battalions, one from the 21st Panzer Divi- 
sion and the other from the 15th Panzer Grenadier Di- 
vision, supported by six tanks. 

8 It is not clear from available sources, but it ap- 
pears that von Manteuffel wanted to withdraw XLVII 
Panzer Corps' right flank back about five miles or 
more to the heavily wooded hills and ridges of the 
Forest of Ste. Barbe, on the north, and the Forest of 
Rambervillers, on the south. 



infantry and heavy weapons. The 
most Army Group G could promise was 
to increase deliveries of ammunition. 
At the time, Balck felt that the Fifth 
Panzer Army, whatever its problems, 
was still better off than Wiese's totter- 
ing Nineteenth Army in the Vosges and 
the Belfort Gap. 

First Try for Bruyeres and Brouvelieures 

The 45th Division's attack toward 
Brouvelieures and Bruyeres demand- 
ed that the Rambervillers area be se- 
cured first, in order to protect the 
division's northern flank. The 157th 
Infantry and the 117th Cavalry 
Squadron accomplished this task by 
blocking the roads leading northeast, 
east, and southeast from Ramber- 
villers, while maintaining contact with 
the XV Corps' French 2d Armored 
Division in the north. These require- 
ments, however, together with the 
German domination of the generally 
open country immediately east of 
Rambervillers with artillery and 
mortar fire, prevented the division's 
left from mounting any significant at- 
tacks toward Baccarat, and left Gener- 
al Eagles, the division commander, 
with only two regiments for his main 
effort. Nevertheless, the 45th Division 
commander hoped to outflank the 
Germans by taking an indirect ap- 
proach to his objective. While push- 
ing his 179th Infantry regiment north 
through the Faite forest, he wanted 
the 180th to make a wide swing to the 
left, moving up to the Rambervillers 
area and then heading southeast 
through the Ste. Helene woods, be- 
tween two secondary roads (D-50 and 
D-47) and the small Mortagne River, 
to attack the German lines from the 




MAP 19 



278 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



side and rear {Map 19) 

At first the attack went as planned. 
While the 157 th secured Ramber- 
villers, the 180th Infantry cleared most 
of the mile-wide Bois de Ste. Helene by 
29 September, meeting only scattered 
German delaying actions. German de- 
fenses, however, stiffened along D-70, 
a small road that bisected the 180th's 
advance southward and marked a gen- 
eral boundary between the gentle Ste. 
Helene woods and the more rugged 
Mortagne forest guarding the final ap- 
proaches to both Bruyeres and Brouve- 
lieures. To the south, the 179th Infan- 
try emerged from the Faite forest 
about the same time, but found it diffi- 
cult to cross the narrow N-420 valley 
road skirting the southern edge of the 
Mortagne forest. By October 2, after 
three days of hard fighting, the 180th 
managed to take Fremifontaine, a small 
hamlet on D-70, and the 179th secured 
Grandvillers; however, the stubborn 
16th Volksgrenadier Division infantry 
hung on to a defensive network cen- 
tered around three prominent eleva- 
tions—Hills 385, 422, and 489. Never- 
theless, the German defenses now ap- 
peared ready to collapse. 

Late on 2 October, as Eagles' con- 
verging regiments prepared to contin- 
ue the offensive into the forest itself, 
von Manteuffel advised Balck that the 
XLVII Panzer Corps lacked the means 
to launch a counterattack to recapture 
Grandvillers and Fremifontaine, and 
two days later he convinced the Army 
Group G commander that the situation 
in the sector was becoming irretriev- 
able. Heavily engaged in the Parroy 
forest battle, the Fifth Panzer Army had 
no significant resources that it could 
deploy south. By that time the 180th 
and 179th Infantry had penetrated 



deeply into the Mortagne forest, by- 
passing German positions on Hill 
385, driving a wedge between two of 
the 16th Division's regiments, and ap- 
proaching to within a mile of Brouve- 
lieures itself. Reinforcements were 
needed if the 16th was to survive. 

At the time Balck could do little. On 
5 October he released two reserve bat- 
talions to the XLVII Panzer Corps, which, 
together with some odds and ends that 
von Manteuffel had been able to scrape 
together, the Army Group G commander 
hoped would save the situation. 9 But 
von Manteuffel warned that the rein- 
forcements were inadequate, prompt- 
ing Balck to allow portions of the 11th 
Panzer Division north of the Rhine- 
Marne Canal to be pulled out of the 
line, despite the constant pressure 
there from Patton's Third Army. 

The counterattacking force that von 
Manteuffel finally assembled thus con- 
sisted of the 111th Panzer Grenadiers of 
the 11th Panzer Division, ten to twelve 
Mark IV medium tanks from the same 
division, and four infantry battalions 
under 16th Division control. Covered by 
German forces on Hill 385, much of 
the infantry and a few of the armored 
vehicles assembled in the Mortagne 
valley about three-quarters of a mile 
east of Fremifontaine; the rest of the 
tanks and additional infantry gathered 
at the head of a ravine about a mile to 
the south; and two more infantry bat- 
talions came together another mile far- 
ther south. For the northern elements 
of the German counterattack the most 



9 The reserve battalions came from Regiment A/V. 
The Fifth Panzer Army had already sent to the XLVII 
Panzer Corps a 100-man guard company from army 
headquarters, two grenadier companies of the 21st 
Panzer Division, a battery of light howitzers, and 
three assault guns. 



THE ROAD TO ST. DIE 



279 





83d Chemical (Mortar) Battalion, 45th Division, fire 4.2-inch mortars, Grand- 
villers area. 



important objective was Hill 422, an 
American-held height three-quarters 
of a mile southeast of Fremifontaine 
that provided good observation in all 
directions. The two southern infantry 
battalions were to support the attack 
on Hill 422 and were also to strike for 
Hill 484, a mile and a half farther south 
and a similar distance east of Grand- 
villers, the ultimate objective. 10 If the 
German counterattack developed 
properly, it would slam into the left 
and rear of the 180th Infantry north- 



10 Troops of the 179th Infantry had been on the 
northern slopes of Hill 484 since 4 October, but 
had not secured the entire hill. 



west of Brouvelieures and sever the 
tenuous contact between the 1 79th and 
180th regiments, perhaps cutting off 
the 180th. 

The counterattack, which began 
about 0900 on 6 October, took the 
two 45th Division regiments by sur- 
prise. Although the assembly of noisy 
tanks and self-propelled guns was dif- 
ficult to muffle, the weakening 
German resistance during the previ- 
ous days may have given the Ameri- 
can attackers a false sense of security; 
moreover, deep in the forest it was 
difficult to tell friend or foe by noise 
alone. By late afternoon the German 
northern wing had seized Hill 422 



280 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



and cut off much of the 2d Battalion, 
180th Infantry, opening a wide gap 
between the two American regiments. 
In the south, however, the two attack- 
ing German battalions made little 
headway in the Hill 484 sector and 
were in turn outflanked by aggressive 
179th Infantry countermaneuvers. 
The fighting continued throughout 
the night, quickly degenerating into a 
continuous series of violent but con- 
fused skirmishes, with neither side 
being able to accomplish much in the 
dark forests. 

On the morning of 7 October, the 
American units began reorganizing 
and started eliminating the German 
penetrations. The 180th Infantry 
retook Hill 422 while the 179th isolat- 
ed the German southern assault 
forces from the panzer grenadiers in 
the north and, in the process, secured 
all of Hill 484. Deciding that no more 
could be accomplished, von Manteuf- 
fel directed the 11th Panzer Division's 
task force to start disengaging during 
the night of 7-8 October, leaving the 
16th Division to reestablish a defensive 
line as best it could. 

When the front finally stabilized on 
9 October, the 180th Infantry had es- 
tablished a new line extending from 
the vicinity of Hill 385 — still in 
German hands — south across Hill 422 
to the regimental boundary just north 
of Hill 484. The German counterat- 
tack had thus forced the regiment to 
pull its front to the west and south 
about three-quarters of a mile, and 
had cost it 5 men killed, 40 wounded, 
and about 30 missing (most of these 
last, captured). The 179th Infantry 
had also pulled back and was prepar- 
ing a defensive line extending south- 
west from Hill 484 to the northeast- 



ern slopes of the Faite forest, after 
losing 18 men killed, 64 wounded, 
and about 25 missing. The 179th had 
captured around 30 Germans, and the 
180th nearly 50. 

The German attack had not suc- 
ceeded in its larger objective — retak- 
ing Grandvillers and Fremifontaine — 
which again illustrated Army Group G's 
inability to push any counterattack 
through to a decisive conclusion. On 
the other hand, the operations had 
forced the 179th and 180th Infantry 
regiments to take up defensive posi- 
tions; the units would need nearly a 
week before they were ready to 
resume offensive operations. The 
XLVII Panzer Corps had at least bought 
some time for its hard-pressed left 
flank. 

The 36th Division 

Truscott had intended that Dahl- 
quist's 36th Division only support the 
45th's attack on the Bruyeres-Brouve- 
lieures area. At the time, the division 
had been slowly pushing northeast up 
the Vologne and D-44 valley, clearing 
out elements of the German 716th In- 
fantry Division from the wooded hills on 
either side of its advance. By 1 October 
the 36th Division's 143d regiment, on 
the left wing, had moved through the 
eastern edge of the imposing Faite 
forest to Docelles and Deycimont, 
while the 141st regiment, at the divi- 
sion's center, had come up abreast of 
the 143d on the eastern side of the 
river, crossing first Route D-ll and 
then D-30 to secure the town of Le- 



panges \{Map 20)\ To the southeast, the 
division's remaining regiment, the 
142d, had emerged from the steep hills 
and valleys of the Froissard forest to 



THE ROAD TO ST. DIE 



281 




MAP 20 



cut D-l 1 near the mountain hamlet of 
Tendon. The regiment, reinforced by a 
battalion of the 141st, had then gone 
on to occupy two hill masses north of 
the road, Hills 728 and 827, cutting the 
716th Division's lateral communications 
with Le Tholy and threatening Route 
D-30, which now became the defend- 
ers' main supply artery in the region. 
But despite their success, all three of 
Dahlquist's regiments were exhausted, 
and the terrain between their current 
positions and Bruyeres was, if any- 
thing, even more difficult. Yet any at- 
tempt to take what was obviously the 
easiest and most direct route to their 
objective area — marching straight up 
the Vologne River valley, with German 
units of unknown size in the forests on 
both flanks — seemed extremely dan- 
gerous. 

Believing that at least one of his 



regiments should be removed from 
the line for rest and refitting, Dahl- 
quist decided to make his main effort 
east of the Vologne, through a rectan- 
gular terrain compartment bounded 
by the towns of Laval, Herpelmont, 
Houx, and Lepanges — about twelve 
square miles of mountainous forests 
nearly devoid of human habitation. 
Possession of the area would secure 
his right flank for an advance up the 
east bank of the Vologne to Bruyeres, 
leaving the Faite forest to the 45th 
Division, with security forces along 
the river itself covering his left flank. 

To accomplish this, Dahlquist 
planned to have the 141st regiment, 
with its two battalions and attached 
armor, make the division's main as- 
sault between Lepanges and St. Jean- 
du-Marche. The 141st would be sup- 
ported by a secondary attack north 



282 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



from the ridge line of Hill 728-827 
toward D-30 between Houx and Re- 
haupal, and beyond. But Dahlquist 
gave the latter task to the 143d Infan- 
try, transferring it east from the Faite 
forest area and moving the tired 142d 
into reserve for a long-needed rest. 
During the repositioning, the 143d 
was even able to occupy the town of 
Houx on 2 October; henceforth, a 
small north-south road between Houx 
and Herpelmont would mark the 
boundary between the two attacking 
regiments. 

During the planning process, Dahl- 
quist had considered making his main 
effort west of the Vologne River, 
where his forces might have better 
complemented the offensive oper- 
ations of Eagles' 45th Division. How- 
ever, he felt that such a move, cou- 
pled with the pending redeployment 
of the 3d Division on his right flank 
from the Le Tholy area, would have 
given the defending 716th Division too 
much room to prepare a counterat- 
tack from the southeast, and so he 
abandoned the idea. 

One of Dahlquist's major problems 
was making the best use of his attached 
armor in this type of terrain. Like most 
other American divisions, he had one 
tank battalion and one tank destroyer 
battalion attached, which he habitually 
broke up into mixed task groupings. 
He had already formed one such unit, a 
small armored blocking force under Lt. 
Col. Edward M. Purdy, commanding 
the 636th Tank Destroyer Battalion, to 
secure the west bank of the Vologne 
River. 11 



11 36th Inf Div OI 303100A Sep 44. Initially, the 
blocking force consisted of the following elements: 
Company B, 753d Tank Battalion 



On 2 October he created a similar 
grouping, Task Force Danzi, to sup- 
port the 141st Infantry on the east 
side of the river. 12 While a small part 
of the force deployed in the St. Jean- 
du-Marche area to protect the right 
rear of the 141st Infantry, the main 
body assembled near Prey, on the Vo- 
logne a mile northeast of Lepanges, 
with the principal mission of assisting 
the infantry drive toward Herpel- 
mont. On the 3d, Purdy assumed con- 
trol of this force, while retaining com- 
mand of the one west of the Vologne, 
but both were now subordinate to the 
141st regiment. 

From 1 to 4 October, the 141st, 
still with only two infantry battalions, 
made substantial progress pushing 
through the heavy forests, and by 
dusk on the 4th it had secured rough- 
ly two-thirds of the rectangle. Its left 
flank was on the Vologne near Prey, 
and the right had crossed the Houx- 
Herpelmont road toward the western 
slopes of Hill 676, half a mile south 
of Herpelmont. However, the regi- 
ment now began to run out of steam, 
casualties started to mount, and the 
Nineteenth Army began deploying rein- 
forcements into the area. 

In the 143d Infantry's sector, 
progress had been slower. By 4 Octo- 



Company B, 636th Tank Destroyer Battalion 
Company B, 111th Engineer Combat Battalion, 
36th Division 

36th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop. 
12 The initial composition of TF Danzi was the fol- 
lowing: 

Company A, 753d Tank Battalion ( — 3 tanks) 
Company C, 636th Tank Destroyer Battalion 
( — 1 platoon) 

Reconnaissance Company, 636th Tank Destroy- 
er Battalion 

Antitank Company, 141st Infantry 
Company F, 141st Infantry (—1 platoon) 
One platoon, Company C, 141st Infantry. 



THE ROAD TO ST. DIE 



283 



ber the regiment had cleared the 
Houx area, pushed northeast a mile 
and a half up the Houx-Herpelmont 
road, and, on the right, advanced 
over a mile southeast from Houx 
along Route D-30. But the 143d 
quickly discovered that German artil- 
lery and mortar fire prevented them 
from using either of the narrow roads 
as a supply route or an axis of ad- 
vance; like the 141st, the regiment 
was forced to depend on a variety of 
time-consuming cross-country routes 
for these purposes. Both regiments 
also found that German resistance 
grew stronger as their advance carried 
them slowly to the east-west road nets 
of D-51 and D-50 that the Germans 
were undoubtedly using to supply 
their forces. 

Not surprisingly, armor played a 
minimal role in the struggle, and in 
fact the 141st Infantry units com- 
plained loudly about the lack of tank 
support. 13 The real problem, howev- 
er, was the terrain, which restricted 
vehicles to back roads and trails that 
were easily interdicted by mines, de- 
molitions, and German artillery fire. 
In addition, rain and fog severely lim- 
ited visibility, often leaving the tanks 
and tank destroyers with nothing at 
which to fire. The rain and heavy 
military traffic broke up back roads 
and turned mountain trails into 
muddy quagmires that bogged down 
tracked vehicles; booby-trapped road- 
blocks, together with numerous mines 
along most of the better routes, 
slowed the armor to the pace of engi- 
neer clearing operations. Finally, in 
most cases, the noisy movement of 



13 141st Inf AAR, Oct 44, p. 8. 



armor along the back roads and main 
trails, as well as across what open 
ground there was, immediately 
brought down carefully registered 
German artillery, antitank, and mortar 
fire. The LXIV Corps apparently did 
not suffer from any serious ammuni- 
tion shortages. 

The limited Vosges offensive pro- 
duced, in fact, a serious shortage of 
artillery ammunition in the VI Corps, 
forcing Truscott to place severe re- 
strictions on the number of daily 
rounds expended by each of the divi- 
sion's artillery battalions. Dahlquist's 
troops, who were perhaps the most 
dependent on indirect fire support 
because of the nature of the fighting, 
felt the restrictions the hardest. As a 
partial remedy, on 4 October Dahl- 
quist ordered the division's tank and 
tank destroyer units to be attached to 
one of his three field artillery battal- 
ions by night in order to undertake 
the harassing and interdiction mis- 
sions normally fired by the artillery 
batteries, making at least some use of 
his impotent armor. 14 

At about the same time Dahlquist 
also combined Purdy's task forces 
into a larger grouping, Felber Force, 
under Lt. Col. Joseph G. Felber, the 
commander of the 753d Tank Battal- 
ion. 15 At the behest of the 141st In- 



14 Using armor in this manner was in keeping with 
current Army doctrine. 

15 As organized on 5 October Felber Force con- 
sisted of the following: 

Company A, 753d Tank Battalion 
Company B, 753d Tank Battalion 
Company B, 636th Tank Destroyer Battalion 
Company C, 636th Tank Destroyer Battalion 
Company B, 111th Engineer Combat Battalion 
Reconnaissance Company, 636th Tank Destroy- 
er Battalion 



284 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



fantry, Felber Force passed from regi- 
mental to division control, but the 
transfer caused some confusion, leav- 
ing the 141st with little control over 
its armored support. By the morning 
of 7 October, only two tanks and two 
tank destroyers were physically with 
the 141st Infantry. Although a re- 
quest to division headquarters 
brought a platoon of tanks and an- 
other of tank destroyers back to regi- 
mental control, the bulk of the 36th 
Division's armor remained assigned 
to Felber Force under Dahlquist's 
direct supervision. Since the advanc- 
ing infantry could seldom employ 
more than one or two tanks profitably 
at any one time, Dahlquist judged it 
best to keep the bulk of the machines 
in reserve for the moment. 

From 4 October through the 14th, 
daily progress of both the 141st and 
143d Infantry was measured in yards. 
Resistance from the 716th Division 
stiffened markedly and, while the op- 
position was largely static in nature, 
German patrols constantly harassed 
the 36th Division's supply routes. 
Herpelmont fell to the 141st Infantry 
on 8 October, but German artillery 
fire rendered the road junction un- 
tenable. The 141st nevertheless se- 
cured Hill 676 south of Herpelmont, 
as well as the high ground immediate- 
ly northwest of town. By the evening 
of 14 October the regiment had also 
cleared Beaumenil on Route D-50, a 
mile northwest of Herpelmont, and 



Antitank Company, 141st Infantry 
36th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop 
The change in command from Purdy to Felber 
originated with a plan to transfer much of the 636th 
Tank Destroyer Battalion to 45th Division control, 
and this redeployment began on 6 October. 



Fimenil, about a mile short (south- 
east) of Laval. 

Meanwhile, by 10 October, the 
143d Infantry had secured most of 
the dominating terrain from the 
southern slopes of Hill 676 south 
nearly three miles to Route D-30 
near Rehaupal. The regiment's gains 
allowed artillery forward observers to 
direct counterbattery fire on German 
positions along the upper (western) 
Vologne River valley west of D-50 
and on rising ground east of the 
river. 

The 142d Infantry began moving 
back into the line on 5 October, but 
made limited progress in the area 
south of the 143d. On 13 October the 
142d took over the 143d Infantry's 
positions from the vicinity of Hill 676 
south to Route D-30, while the 143d 
prepared to switch back to the 36th 
Division's left for a renewed attack 
toward Bruyeres. In fact, during the 
later stage of their slow advance 
northward, the 36th Division regi- 
ments normally deployed only two 
battalions on line, switching them 
back and forth to give each a seven- 
to ten-day rest. The division also 
began preparing to resume VI Corps' 
drive toward St. Die, to which the 
limited gains through 14 October had 
been a necessary, if costly, prelude. 
The 36th Division's infantry casualties 
for the period 1-14 October num- 
bered approximately 85 killed, 845 
wounded, and 115 missing, for an of- 
ficial total of 1,045, almost half of 
which were suffered by the tired 
141st regiment. 16 



16 Sources are the regimental records and AARs 
for October 1944. 




The 3d Division 

Immediately south of the 36th Divi- 
sion lay the sector of the 3d Division's 
30th Infantry regiment, which had 
moved to its parent unit's left flank 
on 29 September. The 15th Infantry 
held the 3d Division's center around 
St. Ame, and on the far right the 7th 
Infantry held along the Moselle as far 
as Ferdrupt, nine miles farther south 
{Map 21). Current VI Corps plans en- 
visaged that elements of French II 



Corps would soon relieve the 7th In- 
fantry, but the division's principal ob- 
jective was still Gerardmer, some ten 
miles northeast along Route N-417 
from St. Ame, with an intermediate 
objective of Le Tholy, about halfway 
to Gerardmer. At the time, ongoing 
negotiations with the French to take 
over the area had not yet affected the 
division's plans. 

Located at the junction of Routes 
D-ll and N-417 five miles northeast 
of St. Ame, Le Tholy had become the 



286 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



center of German resistance in the 
region. Route N-417, . representing 
the most direct avenue to Le Tholy 
from the Moselle, ran through a 
mountain valley, along which flowed 
the Rupt de Cleurie River, actually a 
small watercourse no larger than a 
brook. Much of the valley, up to a 
mile wide, was given over to open, 
rolling farmland rising on both sides 
of the stream to rough, forested hills. 
For over half the distance from St. 
Ame to Le Tholy, Route N-417 ran 
along open slopes east of the river, 
and country lanes provided additional 
mobility throughout the valley, at 
least in good weather. However, a 
number of stone quarries, usually 
near the tree line, punctuated the 
upper slopes of the Cleurie valley on 
both sides of the river, providing the 
Germans with ready-made defensive 
positions. 

At the end of September General 
O'Daniel, the 3d Division command- 
er, intended to send the 15th Infantry 
directly up Route N-417 from St. 
Ame toward Le Tholy, supported by 
the 30th Infantry working through 
wooded hills along the western side 
of the valley. Once de Monsabert's 
French forces arrived in the south, 
O'Daniel planned to bring his third 
regiment, the 7 th Infantry, up to the 
St. Ame area as well to launch a sup- 
porting, limited objective attack east- 
ward along the axis of Route D-23, a 
rather difficult southerly approach to 
Gerardmer. 

Facing the 3d Division was LXIV 
Corps' 198th Division, the unit that had 
earlier counterattacked the 36th Divi- 
sion in the same area. During the first 
half of October the German division 
opposed the advance of O'Daniel's 



units with its own 305th Grenadiers, the 
attached 602d and 608th Mobile Battal- 
ions, two battle groups built on rem- 
nants of the 196th and 200th Security 
Regiments, and a host of smaller ad 
hoc units that the 198th Division was 
absorbing to rebuild its depleted 
ranks. Later the 7th Infantry would 
also encounter troops of the 198th Di- 
vision's 326th Grenadiers on its south- 
ern flank, while on the north the 30th 
Infantry would run into elements of 
the 716th Division, the bulk of which 
was battling the 36th Division. 

The attack of the 3d Division, Trus- 
cott's best and most experienced unit, 
ran into trouble from the beginning. 
By 1 October, the slowly advancing 
15th Infantry had come up against a 
major German strongpoint at one of 
the largest quarries, L'Omet, on the 
eastern side of the valley, only about 
a mile and a half north of St. Ame, 
and there the advance of the division 
up N-417 halted. Unable to force 
L'Omet, O'Daniel switched his main 
effort to the 30th Infantry still ad- 
vancing through the woods west of 
the valley, but even there progress 
was slow. Terrain and weather pre- 
cluded both armor and air support 
and greatly limited the effectiveness 
of artillery. Not until 10 October did 
the regiment reach Route D-ll, 
about a mile and a half northwest of 
Le Tholy, and secure Hill 781, over- 
looking Le Tholy on the north. There 
the 30th Infantry quickly discovered 
that the Germans had the town — 
which was in a shambles — well cov- 
ered by artillery fire and had estab- 
lished strong defenses to the west, 
making a further advance toward Ger- 
ardmer temporarily impossible. The 
30th Infantry, accordingly, made no 



THE ROAD TO ST. DIE 



287 



determined effort to clear Le Tholy 
or to push eastward through the 
town. Having suffered some 600 casu- 
alties during the period 30 Septem- 
ber- 10 October, the regiment needed 
to catch its breath. 

In the center the 15th Infantry had 
meanwhile found the northern and 
southern entrances to L'Omet quarry 
nearly cliff-like and covered by 
German automatic weapons fire, 
while at the eastern and western ap- 
proaches the Germans had piled up 
impressive stone roadblocks across a 
narrow route through the quarry. 
Inside the quarry, passageways, tun- 
nels, stone walls, and scrap piles of 
broken stone provided the defenders 
with good cover and concealment. Al- 
though the number of Germans 
within the quarry at first probably 
numbered no more than a few hun- 
dred, reinforcements arrived during 
the battle, while other troops manned 
machine-gun positions in the adjacent 
woods to cover most approaches to 
the quarry. Not surprisingly, infantry 
assaults on the quarry between 30 
September and 2 October proved 
useless. On the 3d, two tank destroy- 
ers and two special M4 tanks mount- 
ing 105-mm. howitzers pumped about 
500 rounds of high explosive ammu- 
nition into the German defensive 
works, while mortars of the 1st Battal- 
ion, 15th Infantry, lobbed in a week's 
allotment of ammunition. The effort 
had little effect. 17 



17 For an account, see Donald G. Taggart, ed., 
History of the Third Infantry Division in World War II 
(Washington, D.C.: Infantry Journal Press, 1947), 
pp. 248-49. The 15th Infantry's commander, Col. 
Richard G. Thomas, suffered a heart attack on 4 
October, and Lt. Col. Hallett D. Edson, the regi- 
mental executive officer took over the command. 



On 4 October the attack continued 
behind the supporting fire of three 
artillery battalions, but made little 
progress until tanks laboriously made 
their way up to the west entrance, 
knocking down the stone roadblocks 
and finally opening up the interior of 
the quarry to the infantry. The last 
organized resistance crumbled during 
midafternoon on the 5th, with some 
twenty Germans fleeing after most of 
the defenders had apparently evacuat- 
ed their positions during the night. 

Following the quarry fight, the 15th 
Infantry found the going easier as the 
Germans grudgingly gave way. On 6 
October the regimental left reached 
the town of La Forge, about halfway 
to Le Tholy on Route N-417. 
German artillery and mortar fire 
again took command of the highway, 
however, and it was not until the 11th 
that infantry from the 15th regiment 
could secure the town. 18 Thereafter 
the regiment avoided the center of 
the valley, pushed more rapidly across 
wooded hills east of the highway, and 
by the evening of 14 October occu- 
pied a line from Route N-417 just 
south of Le Tholy west another two 
and a half miles along good, wooded 
holding ground. 

On the 15th Infantry's right, the 
7th Infantry regiment had begun its 
own infiltration of the Vosges Moun- 
tains. At the end of September the 3d 
Battalion, 7th Infantry, held positions 
on high, forested terrain south of St. 
Ame, which overlooked, to the east, 
the road junction town of Vagney on 
Route D-23 and the Moselotte River. 



18 For heroic action near La Forge on 9 October, 
1st Lt. Victor L. Kandle of the 15th Infantry was 
awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. 



288 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 




4.2-Inch Mortars Hit Le Tholy 



At the time the 1st Battalion was still 
based at Rupt-sur-Moselle, seven 
miles south of St. Ame, and had pro- 
jected some strength several miles up 
into the Foret de Longegoutte toward 
the Moselotte; the 2d Battalion was 
concentrated around Ferdrupt, three 
miles southeast up the Moselle from 
Rupt. When relieved by the 3d Alge- 
rian Division of the French II Corps, 
the 7th Infantry was to concentrate in 
the St. Ame area and then seize 
Vagney and the nearby forested 
heights. 

Leaving behind small holding de- 
tachments, the regiment quietly rede- 
ployed its two battalions along the 
Moselle during the nights of 2-3 and 



3-4 October. It began its attack on 
Vagney late on the afternoon of the 
4th, with the 2d Battalion seizing the 
high ground north of the St. Ame- 
Sapois road, and the other units 
crossing D-23 to secure Hill 822, a 
mile west of Vagney. After a three- 
day battle Vagney fell on 7 October, 
two days earlier than the VI Corps 
and 3d Division had expected. 

This time the Germans defended 
their mountain strongholds with 
vigor. About 2020 on the 7th, 
German infantry, with the support of 
two tanks, launched a desperate coun- 
terattack into Vagney. In the fog and 
darkness the 7th Infantry's troops 
mistook the lead German tank for a 



THE ROAD TO ST. DIE 



289 



vehicle of the 756th Tank Battalion, 
which had a platoon of mediums in 
the area. The German armor then 
penetrated quickly into the town, 
taking the command posts of both the 
1st and 3d Battalions under fire, 
which led to a wild melee before the 
German force was finally ejected. 19 

Brushing off the German counterat- 
tack, the 7th Infantry's right pushed 
up the Moselotte River on the 8th to 
secure Zainvillers, a mile south of 
Vagney, but not before the Germans 
blew the Zainvillers bridge. The left 
meanwhile reached out along D-23 
toward Sapois, a mile and a half west 
of Vagney. After three days of stub- 
born resistance the Germans with- 
drew from Sapois, and troops of the 
7th Infantry moved in, ending the 
regiment's last significant action in 
the Vagney area. Plans to push part 
of the 7th Infantry toward Gerardmer 
along Route D-23 had been aban- 
doned by this time, and already ele- 
ments of the regiment had moved out 
of the line as troops of the 3d Algeri- 
an Division began arriving from the 
south to relieve the American unit. 

Relief and Redeployment 

Since 28 September, discussions 
had been under way between the U.S. 
Seventh and First French Armies re- 
garding the movement of the inter- 
army boundary north, which would 
give the French more room to ma- 
neuver against the northern ap- 
proaches to Belfort and allow Trus- 



19 Fatally wounded, 2d Lt. James L. Harris, the 
756th Tank Battalion's platoon leader in Vagney, 
demonstrated extreme heroism during the fight and 
was posthumously awarded the Congressional 
Medal of Honor. 



cott to pull the 3d Division out of a 
region that had become a dead end 
for the VI Corps. Truscott wanted the 
3d Division to spearhead a renewed 
offensive toward St. Die, while de 
Monsabert felt the St. Ame-Vagney 
region would give him a back door to 
the German defenses at Le Thillot 
and southward. The subsequent relief 
of the 3d Division caused some prob- 
lems between the American and 
French commands, and between 
Truscott and Patch as well. The 3d 
Algerian Division, beset by supply 
and transportation problems and en- 
gaged in a new offensive against the 
Gerardmer-Le Thillot area, had been 
unable to move northward in strength 
as rapidly as the American command- 
ers had expected. Meanwhile German 
resistance in the Vagney area had 
proved stronger than estimated, 
making it dangerous for the 7th In- 
fantry to disengage until the Algeri- 
ans had substantial strength on the 
ground. In the interim, sharp differ- 
ences arose between Patch and Trus- 
cott over the scope of 7th Infantry 
operations in the area, and later be- 
tween the French and the Americans 
when de Monsabert's forces were fi- 
nally able to assume responsibility for 
the additional territory. 20 



20 The boundary discussions during late Septem- 
ber and early October were complicated, reflecting 
a series of misunderstandings on the part of the 
headquarters and commanders most concerned. See 
6th Army Gp LI 1, 26 Sep 44; Devers Diary, 28 
Sep-8 Oct 44; Seventh Army Diary, 30 Sep-4 Oct 
44; Seventh Army Conf File, Bk 7, Confs of 1 and 3 
Oct 44; Seventh Army FO 6, 29 Sep 44; Seventh 
Army Rpt, II, 359-61; Rad, CPX-14229, Seventh 
Army to VI Corps et al., 4 Oct 44; de Lattre, History, 
pp. 192-98; First Fr Army Personal and Secret Instr 
3, 30 Sep 44; First Fr Army SO 76, 4 Oct 44; First 
Fr Army, "Note Concerning the Development of 
Opns on the Front of First French Army," 9 Oct 44. 



290 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



Trouble began on 7 October when 
the VI Corps directed the 3d Infantry 
Division to be prepared to move most 
of the 7th Infantry out of the line 
after 1000 on the 8th, replacing the 
infantry with engineer and armored 
units. During the course of the 8th, 
however, Seventh Army informed VI 
Corps that such preparations were 
premature. Keeping close track of the 
French progress northward as well as 
their attacks on Le Thillot and Ger- 
ardmer, Patch realized that the 3d Al- 
gerian Division could not possibly 
take over the 7th Infantry's positions 
On 8 October, and instead recom- 
mended that the 7th continue its at- 
tacks eastward in support of de Mon- 
sabert's offensive. Truscott objected, 
fearing that the attacks would tie up 
the 7th Infantry for some days; fur- 
thermore, he pointed out that Patch's 
orders of 4 October had limited the 
7th Infantry's responsibilities to the 
seizure of Vagney and neighboring 
high ground. After more discussion, 
Patch reluctantly agreed that it would 
probably accomplish little to have the 
7th Infantry advance farther along 
Route D-34, but insisted that the 
regiment maintain strong pressure to 
the east. 

Truscott and General O'Daniel in- 
terpreted the Seventh Army instruc- 
tions as loosely as possible. On the 
9th O'Daniel pulled the 2d Battalion, 
7th Infantry, out of the front line and, 
by the morning of the 10th, had also 
assembled the 7th regiment's 1st Bat- 
talion in reserve at Vagney. Mean- 
while the two commanders had 
agreed between themselves that the 
7 th Infantry would make no further 
efforts south; consequently, the 7th 
never went beyond dispatching a few 



small patrols out of Zainvillers. At the 
time, both Truscott and O'Daniel 
were more interested in preserving 
the strength of both the 3d Division 
and its 7th regiment for the projected 
drive on St. Die and did not want to 
commit the regiment deeply into the 
Moselotte valley. In the end, the 7th 
Infantry left only a small holding de- 
tachment at Zainvillers, pending the 
arrival of French troops, and abruptly 
ended its advance in the north after 
securing Sapois on the 11th. Follow- 
ing the fall of Sapois, O'Daniel began 
redeploying the rest of the 7th Infan- 
try, replacing them by the morning of 
the 12th with two companies of the 
48th Engineer Combat Battalion. 21 All 
American pressure against the 
German forces in the area was thus 
relaxed, well before the French offen- 
sive just to the south ended. 

By the 12th even Truscott, who 
now realized that de Monsabert's 
corps could initially put little more 
than a reconnaissance squadron and 
an FFI battalion in the Sapois- 
Vagney-Zainvillers area, began to 
have second thoughts about the 
speed of the 3d Division's disengage- 
ment; he, therefore, directed O'Dan- 
iel to leave at least one battalion of 
the 7th Infantry at Vagney for added 
security. However, two days later, on 
14 October, Devers officially moved 
the interarmy boundary north of 
Route N-417 and Le Tholy, and be- 
tween 14 and 17 October the French 
II Corps assumed responsibility for 
the area, relieving first the remaining 
7th Infantry battalion and then the 
15th regiment. It was not until 23 Oc- 



21 A separate, nondivisional unit attached to VI 
Corps and reattached to the 3d Infantry Division. 



THE ROAD TO ST. DIE 



291 



tober, though, that units of the 36th 
Division finally relieved O'Daniel's 
last regiment, the 30th, in the Le 
Tholy-La Forge area west of N-417. 
None of O'Daniel's regiments had ac- 
complished much in any of their 
zones since the 11th, giving little sup- 
port to de Monsabert's offensive be- 
tween 4 and 17 October and allowing 
the Germans ample time to rebuild 
their battered defenses before the 
newly arriving French units could 
begin to pose a threat. All in all, the 
lack of coordination between the two 
Allied forces did not augur well for 
the future. 

The Vosges Fighting: Problems and 
Solutions 

As the VI Corps moved into the 
High Vosges during late September 
and early October, wear and tear on 
its three infantry divisions greatly ac- 
celerated. As early as 26 September 
General O'Daniel, commanding the 
3d Division, observed a significant de- 
cline in the aggressiveness of his in- 
fantry units. Explanations that the 
troops were wet and tired and devel- 
oping a certain caution — based on a 
general feeling that the war would 
soon be over — failed to satisfy O'Dan- 
iel, who urged his subordinate com- 
manders to emphasize that a go-easy 
attitude could only prolong the war 
and increase casualties. Dahlquist, 
commanding the 36th, later noted the 
disciplinary problems that all VI 
Corps units were experiencing, espe- 
cially desertions among the line infan- 
try companies in combat (50-60 cases 
per division) and the ever-present 
straggler phenomenon that had af- 
flicted the corps since the initial land- 



ings. In part he felt these difficulties 
were a product of the heavy officer 
and NCO casualties sustained by the 
fighting units in both Italy and France 
and the resulting decline in leader- 
ship as enlisted men were rapidly pro- 
moted to take up the slack. 22 

Other VI Corps officers echoed 
these concerns. The commander of 
the 3d Division's 15th Infantry felt 
that his regiment's quality was slip- 
ping. Replacements, he averred, were 
often inept and poorly trained. More- 
over, the many veterans of the regi- 
ment's bitter fighting in the snow- 
drenched mountains of Italy had little 
stomach left for another winter's op- 
erations in French mountains. In the 
45th Division the 180th Infantry re- 
ported about sixty-five recent combat 
fatigue cases, while at the same time 
skin infections were becoming endem- 
ic, largely as the result of constant 
wet weather and a chronic shortage of 
bathing facilities. Col. Paul D. Adams, 
commanding the 143d Infantry of the 
36th Division, reported an almost 
alarming mental and physical lethargy 
among the troops of his regiment, 
and General Dahlquist, the division 
commander, had to tell General Trus- 
cott that the 36th had little punch 
left. 

Dahlquist felt that he had been 
driving his troops too hard and, after 
privately discussing the problem with 
his regimental commanders, had es- 
tablished small division rest camps for 
his infantrymen. According to Colo- 
nel Adams, the troops needed to be 
rested continually during the late 



22 Ltr, Dahlquist to Brig Gen Edward C. Betts, 
HQ, ETO, 21 Nov 44, Correspondence, John E. 
Dahlquist Papers, MHI. 



292 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



autumn and winter fighting in the 
Vosges because of -the terrain and 
weather. "It takes about three days 
[of rest] with men that age," he 
judged. 

You give them three days and they'll . . . 
be back in shape without any trouble. Just 
leave them alone, let them sleep and eat 
the first day, make them clean up the 
second day, and do whatever they want to 
do the rest of the time, and they'll be 
ready to go. 23 

Once the division headquarters 
became sensitive to the issue of battle 
fatigue, Adams felt, the 36th did 
much better despite the hardships it 
had undergone and would continue 
to meet in the future. 

Improvements in the Seventh 
Army's supply situation might have 
alleviated some of these problems, 
but General Devers' optimism over 
the capabilities of his Mediterranean 
supply lines proved premature. De- 
spite the fall of Marseille, Toulon, 
and the lesser Riviera ports and the 
best efforts of Army logisticians in the 
communications zone, the 6th Army 
Group's land supply lines were still 
overextended. At the end of Septem- 
ber the Seventh Army requested daily 
rail delivery of some 4,485 tons of 
supplies and ammunition for the 
period 1-7 October; however, the 6th 
Army Group's G-4, now responsible 
for setting rail priorities, could allo- 
cate to the Seventh Army only 2,270 
rail-tons per day, and actual receipts 
ran well below that figure. On 5 Oc- 
tober, for example, the Seventh Army 
received only 1,655 tons by rail, and 
on the 6th about 1,670 tons. During 
the same two days the Seventh Army 



received by rail only 20 tons of am- 
munition, while its units were expend- 
ing ammunition at the rate of nearly 
1,000 tons per day. To make up for 
rail deficiencies, the 6th Army Group 
had to continue to rely on long truck 
hauls, but increasingly bad weather, 
deteriorating highways, vehicle main- 
tenance requirements, and the 400- 
mile distance from ports to forward 
depots combined to make road trans- 
portation increasingly difficult and 
slow. In addition, moving supplies 
from forward depots to units in the 
field also proved arduous as the tacti- 
cal forces moved farther into the 
mountains. 

General Truscott had one solution 
to his tactical transportation prob- 
lems. On 2 October, anticipating the 
hardships of mountain campaigning, 
he requested two pack trains from 
Italy. After numerous delays, the 
513th Pack Quartermaster Company 
finally arrived in the Vosges area on 
23 November with 300 mules and a 
veterinary detachment. Dividing the 
mule trains between the divisions still 
in the Vosges, the mule skinners and 
their charges were able to haul ra- 
tions and munitions to the infantry 
units by night. Although providing 
forage for the animals was a problem, 
the users reported little or no inter- 
ference from German artillery or 
mines and booby traps; and resupply, 
even in the most difficult terrain, was 
possible. 24 Had the animals and 
trained handlers been readily avail- 
able earlier, they obviously would 
have been useful throughout the 
Vosges campaign. 

Ammunition was another concern. 



Adams Interv, pp. 7-8. 



Seventh Army Rpl, I, 549. 



THE ROAD TO ST. DIE 



293 




Artillery Munitions: Vital in the Vosges 



Even before Truscott began his limit- 
ed October offensive, VI Corps was 
feeling the pinch of a shortage of ar- 
tillery and other types of munitions. 25 
On 2 October, for example, the 30th 
Infantry of the 3d Division reported 
that it was down to 300 rounds of 81- 
mm. mortar rounds and was ap- 
proaching the exhaustion of its Ml 
rifle ammunition. Severe rationing 
was the only immediate answer. 
Throughout the 3d Division, for ex- 
ample, O'Daniel limited 60-mm. 
mortar ammunition expenditures to 
eight rounds per weapon per day and 
81 -mm. mortars to eleven rounds, 
105-mm. howitzers to thirty-two 
rounds, and 155-mm. howitzers to 



On the ammunition crisis, see ibid., 540-43. 



thirty rounds. During much of the 
early part of October, however, Sev- 
enth Army depots could not even fur- 
nish enough ammunition to meet 
these restricted rates. Even .30-caliber 
ammunition was sometimes critically 
short, and the 3d Division had to 
almost denude the support units of 
small arms ammunition to supply its 
rifle companies and machine-gun pla- 
toons. For several days, in fact, there 
was no Ml rifle ammunition to be 
found at the Seventh Army's expand- 
ing supply installations in and around 
Epinal. To preserve morale, Truscott 
even prohibited the dissemination of 
information on overall ammunition al- 
locations below the level of infantry 
regiment and divisional artillery head- 
quarters. 



294 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



Although the VI Corps' ammuni- 
tion shortages were partly overcome 
by mid-October, quartermaster sup- 
plies and rations remained a problem. 
Units often had to exist on half-ra- 
tions or live off packaged, hard ra- 
tions for days at a time. More serious, 
clothing for wet, cold weather was 
scarce. Winter clothing did not begin 
to arrive in adequate amounts until 
after 20 October, and even by the 
end of the month shoe-pacs (rubber- 
ized boots), heavy sweaters, and 
extra-heavy socks were available to 
only about 75 percent of the infantry. 
Heavy, long overcoats were on hand, 
but their usefulness was doubtful, for 
the field units reported that the gar- 
ment was "too bulky for reconnais- 
sance and armored units to use in 
their compact fighting compartments 
. . . [and] so immobilizing that it 
cannot be worn by the infantry, and, 
if issued to them, will be discarded 
the first time they attack." 26 The in- 
fantry much preferred the long, lined 
M-1943 field jacket, and the 3d Divi- 
sion gradually managed to amass 
enough of these jackets to outfit its 
infantry battalions. Other units re- 
ported shortages of signal and engi- 
neer equipment of all types through- 
out October, but the technical service 
units generally accomplished their 
missions through improvisation, sub- 
stitution, and outright scrounging. 

The solution to many of these 
problems was the strengthening of 
the logistical organizations supporting 
the 6th Army Group. To this end, on 
18 September the Continental Base 
Section (CBS) at Marseille moved an 
advanced echelon of its headquarters 



26 3d Inf Div AAR Oct 44, Sec IV, Supply, p. 3. 



to Dijon, and on the 26th, the Conti- 
nental Advance Section (CONAD), 
under Maj. Gen. Arthur R. Wilson, 
became operational at Dijon, absorb- 
ing the advanced echelon of CBS. 
Supply agencies along the Mediterra- 
nean coast then passed to the control 
of a new headquarters, Delta Base 
Section (DBS), under Brig. Gen. John 
P. Ratay. Retaining some personnel 
from the old CBS, DBS obtained ad- 
ditional manpower from Northern 
Base Section on Corsica, which 
ceased to exist. At the same time SOS 
NATOUSA (still located at Caserta, 
Italy) set up an advanced echelon at 
Dijon under Brig. Gen. Morris W. 
Gilland. The French logistical agency, 
Base 901, divided its personnel be- 
tween DBS and CONAD, with most 
of Base 901 moving up to Dijon with 
CONAD, and Brig. Gen. Georges 
Granier becoming the deputy com- 
manding general of CONAD for 
French affairs. Although the various 
changes were phased in fairly rapidly 
and all became effective on 1 Octo- 
ber, several weeks were necessary 
before the new organizations could 
function smoothly and support the 
army group's growing requirements. 
However, in some areas theater logis- 
ticians were powerless. The shortage 
of artillery ammunition, for example, 
was a theaterwide concern, and the 
solution would ultimately depend on 
increasing production in the United 
States and Great Britain. 27 

In the end, terrain and weather were 
the most decisive factors in defining 
the character of the Vosges fighting. 



"Seventh Army Diary, 13 Nov 44; and for an ex- 
tended discussion see Ruppenthal, Logistical Support 
of the Armies, II, 247-63. 



THE ROAD TO ST. DIE 



295 



With only ten good flying days during 
the month of October, Allied air power 
was less effective interdicting German 
troop movements behind the battle- 
field, and Allied ground units were 
more dependent on artillery fire sup- 
port despite the shortage of ammuni- 
tion. Armor, except as mobile artillery, 
was less useful in the mountains, leav- 
ing the bulk of the fighting on both 
sides to the infantry battalions; even 
here the compartmentalized terrain 
made it difficult to maneuver units that 
were larger than platoons and squads. 
In the words of one regimental com- 
mander: 

The fighting during the month of Oc- 
tober was comparable to jungle fighting, 
where . . . maintenance of direction was 
most difficult because of the dense for- 
ests. This alone resulted in many errone- 
ous reports as to locations of units and 
enemy positions. Difficulties arose as 
orders based on the best available infor- 
mation, which was frequently inaccurate, 
miscarried, and at times resulted in bitter 
and unexpected fighting . . . [and he ad- 
vised that] all commanders must report 
actual conditions carefully, avoiding all 
possibility of errors in locations of units 
and omitting entirely reports based on 
optimism rather than fact. Forest areas 
must be mopped up thoroughly. Small, 
well-dug-in enemy detachments if not 
mopped up will harass supply columns, 
and present difficult problems of liquida- 
tion because of our inability to use our 
supporting weapons inside our lines. . . . 
Sometimes the enemy deliberately lets us 
get as close as seventy-five or one hun- 
dred yards to him before disclosing his 
presence with fire, and on occasion lets 
the leading elements pass by. This re- 
duced the right to a small arms fight with 
the enemy enjoying the advantage of 
good cover. . . . Holding the top of a hill 
or even what is ordinarily termed the 
military crest of a wooded hill does not 
necessarily give us control of the sur- 
rounding terrain. We must require all 
units engaged in capturing a hill covered 



with forests to continue down the forward 
slopes until the open country is under 
small arms fire and artillery observation. 28 

Interestingly, General Balck of Army 
Group G also likened the situation in 
the Vosges to jungle fighting, the key 
to which he considered to be having 
plenty of infantry on hand. 29 To this, 
all small-unit commanders could 
readily agree. 

Truscott probably also would have 
agreed with these judgments. The 
weather, terrain, and lack of infantry 
had prevented him from putting more 
force in the push to Bruyeres and 
Brouvelieures. Nevertheless, the VI 
Corps was still in a better position to 
make a more decisive effort toward St. 
Die and ultimately Strasbourg and the 
Rhine. Securing the Rambervillers area 
in the north and the sector defined by 
Le Tholy and Route N-417 in the 
south gave the corps more protection 
on both of its flanks, while the 45th and 
36th Divisions had just about cleared 
the way to Bruyeres and Brouvelieures 
in the center. At the same time, both of 
these divisions had managed to rest 
many of their infantry battalions, never 
putting their full strength on the line. 
In the south, the arrival of French units 
finally allowed Truscott to pull almost 
the entire 3d Division into reserve, 
where it would rest and refit for the 
major VI Corps offensive soon to 
follow. Meanwhile, on the German 
side, the combat strength of the 16th 
and 716th Infantry Divisions had been 
steadily eroded, and the two units had 
been regularly pushed back, giving 



28 Extracted from "Conclusions of Regimental 
Commander," 36th Inf Div AAR Oct 44, p. 2. 

29 Ltr, Balck to Jodl, 10 Oct 44, cited in von Lutti- 
chau, "German Operations," ch. 20, pp. 13-14. 



296 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



them little time to improve their defen- 
sive positions and forcing their parent 
corps to commit what reserves they had 
to shore up their patchwork defensive 
lines. If the Seventh Army and the 6th 
Army Group could solve some of their 



more serious logistical problems and 
expand their unique supply routes 
through southern France, a more con- 
centrated VI Corps push through the 
Vosges might well split the two weak- 
ening German divisions far apart. 



CHAPTER XVI 

Approaching the Gaps: Belfort 



While the XV Corps moved out of 
Luneville toward the Mondon and 
Parroy forests and the VI Corps 
began its approach to the Moselle, 
the First French Army had marked 
time, waiting for the men, materiel, 
and supplies that would ultimately 
fuel de Lattre's offensive against the 
Belfort Gap. For the moment strong 
German resistance along the ap- 
proaches to Belfort made any limited 
efforts futile, and the French had to 
be content with moving up the rest of 
their units from southern and central 
France and deploying them on line. 
Yet, perhaps even more than the 
American commanders, the French 
leaders were restless. French territory 
and people lay before them — towns, 
villages, and hamlets still under 
German rule and subject to the ca- 
prices of the harsh German occupa- 
tion. Moreover, the German defenses 
still appeared to be weak in many 
areas, especially in the mountains 
where dense forests made it difficult 
to establish a continuous line of re- 
sistance. It was a temptation that 
French officers found hard to resist. 

The Initial French Attacks 

On the First French Army's left, or 



northern, wing, de Monsabert's II 
Corps positioned the French 1st In- 
fantry and 1st Armored Divisions on 
the northern routes to Belfort; in the 
center and on the right, or southern, 
wing, General Bethouart's I Corps re- 
inforced the 3d Algerian Division with 
the 9th Colonial Infantry Division and 
Moroccan Tabor units from southern 
France. General du Vigier's armored 
division had finally been strengthened 
with its third combat command, and, 
like Truscott, he and de Monsabert 
were eager to move east before the 
German defenses had solidified. Al- 
though many of de Lattre's units were 
still arriving from North Africa, Amer- 
ican difficulties on the northern flank 
of the French army soon gave the 
French tactical commanders an op- 
portunity for action. 1 

By 23 September both Truscott and 



1 French planning information is from de Lattre, 
History, pp. 182-86 and Histoire (French language 
edition), Annexe V, Extrait du Journal de March 
tenu au 3e Bureau de l'Etat-Major de la Ire Armee 
Francaise, CG II French Corps to CG VI Corps, 23 
Sep 44; II French Corps, General Opns Order 18, 
23 Sep 44; Ltr, CG II French Corps to CG VI 
Corps, 24 Sep 44; 1st French Armored Division, 
General Opns Order 19, 24 Sep 44; Ltr, CG 1st 
French Armored Division to CG 3d Infantry Divi- 
sion, 24 Sep 44; Memo, Lt Col G. F. Hawkens, G-3 
Ops, to BG Jenkins, ACofS G-3 6th Army Gp (no 
sub), 24 Sep 44, in 6th Army Gp SGS File 565; 1st 
French Infantry Division GO 25, 25 Sep 44. 



298 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



O'Daniel had also become concerned 
about the growing gap between the 
U.S. VI Corps and the French II 
Corps, especially considering the 3d 
Division's failure to make any head- 
way on its right wing toward the Mo- 
selle. Although French and American 
cavalry units had tried to cover the 
sector between the two Allied forces, 
they had been stretched thin and 
were unable to move up Route N-486 
to Le Thillot. Le Thillot itself, a key 
road junction town on the upper 
reaches of the Moselle River, lay in 
the French zone of advance and had 
become one of the major anchors of 
the German defenses in the moun- 
tains north of Belfort. Accordingly, 
on 23 September, Truscott asked de 
Monsabert if his forces could assume 
complete responsibility for Le Thillot 
area. At the time he suggested that 
the French make an armored thrust 
up N-486 from Lure complemented 
by a second French drive on Le Thil- 
lot from the north, using the crossing 
sites at Rupt and La Roche that 
O'Daniel's 3d Division had finally se- 
cured. Since the American forces 
were encountering only spotty de- 
fenses along the Moselle, there was 
no reason to believe that the French 
would not find the area equally per- 
meable at some point. Enthusiastic, 
de Monsabert quickly passed the re- 
quest on to de Lattre, who approved 
the proposal that evening with the 
proviso that the effort be limited to 
one combat command of the French 
1st Armored Division and one regi- 
mental combat team of the French 1st 
Infantry Division. 

Planning began immediately. De 
Monsabert wanted the 1st Armored 
Division's Combat Command (CC) 



Sudre to move through the sector of 
the 3d Division and attack Le Thillot 
from the north, on the eastern side of 
the Moselle. CC Caldiarou, the new 
arrival, was to push up Route N-486 
with the 3d African Chasseurs toward 
Le Thillot from the south; and CC 
Kientz and a brigade of the French 
1st Infantry Division was to launch a 
supporting attack south of the high- 
way. The plan obviously called for 
more strength than the limited forces 
approved by de Lattre; but both de 
Monsabert and du Vigier, still com- 
manding the French 1st Armored Di- 
vision, viewed the American request 
as an opportunity to outflank the 
main German defenses at Belfort be- 
tween Lure and Issy-les-Doubs, and 
hoped that a quick strike by du Vi- 
gier's entire division might catch the 
Germans by surprise. 

The French southern attack began 
early on 25 September, and the main 
assault on Le Thillot started on the 
26th after the attacking units had 
moved up to forward assembly areas. 
De Monsabert's plans were flexible. 
He hoped to catch the Germans un- 
awares and either cut a path through 
the southern Vosges to Belfort from 
the north or push directly over the 
Vosges via Gerardmer and the 
Schlucht Pass to Colmar and the 
Rhine. Much depended on speed, sur- 
prise, and the ability of the armor to 
find a weak point in the German 
lines — some road or pass where de- 
fenses had been neglected, poorly or- 
ganized, or perhaps completely ig- 
nored. 

The effort, however, proved prema- 
ture. Despite the speed of the attacks, 
the French found the Germans better 
prepared than in the north. The 



APPROACHING THE GAPS: BELFORT 



299 



narrow roads leading to Le Thillot 
jammed the attacking armor, and the 
battles for the heavily wooded, steep 
hillsides along the highways put a 
premium on infantry. As the attacks 
slowed down, the Germans were able 
to clog the French avenues of ad- 
vance even further with reinforce- 
ments, making the quick penetration 
that de Monsabert and du Vigier had 
hoped for impossible. The fighting 
was similar to that encountered by the 
XV Corps, now attempting to clear 
the Parroy forest, and to that which 
would be experienced by the VI 
Corps in its drive for Bruyeres and 
Brouvelieures. Between 26 and 29 
September progress by the French in 
the southern Vosges was minimal, 
and the attacking forces lost about 
115 killed, 460 wounded, and 30 
missing. 

Rather than terminate the failing 
offensive, de Lattre chose to reinforce 
it. Realizing that de Monsabert had 
surpassed his instructions, he never- 
theless approved the II Corps com- 
mander's initiative. His own estimates 
regarding the time necessary to bring 
up enough supplies and troops to 
launch a major frontal attack against 
the Belfort Gap had been too opti- 
mistic; by the end of September it was 
obvious that the First French Army as 
a whole would not be ready to 
resume the offensive until 20 October 
at the earliest. In the meantime, de 
Monsabert's attacks would at least put 
some pressure on the enemy and, at 
the very least, divert German atten- 
tion away from the Belfort Gap. For 
these reasons de Lattre agreed to 
increase de Monsabert's infantry 
strength, transferring both the 3d Al- 
gerian Infantry Division and the 3d 



Moroccan Tabor Group to the II 
Corps, and promising him the 2d 
Tabor Group, the two-battalion 
French parachute regiment, and the 
assault battalion as soon as they ar- 
rived. In addition he increased the 
frontage held by Bethouart's I Corps, 
with the 9th Colonial Division and the 
recently arrived 2d Moroccan Divi- 
sion, by about fifteen miles, thus al- 
lowing the II Corps to narrow its 
focus of attack. Devers, after exten- 
sive negotiations with de Lattre, also 
moved the French II Corps boundary 
north, to encompass the entire Rupt- 
Le Tholy-Gerardmer area, despite 
the fact that the 3d Division had not 
yet been able to penetrate into the 
region very deeply. 

Logistical Problems 

During the boundary discussions, 
de Lattre took the opportunity to 
thrash out his logistical problems with 
Patch and Devers. Charging that the 
French had been short-changed re- 
garding supplies and equipment, he 
asserted that the lack of gasoline had 
prevented him from bringing up 
enough troops and ammunition to the 
battle area, thus forcing de Monsabert 
to break off his attack before it had a 
chance to succeed. The "unfavorable 
treatment" afforded his army in the 
matter of supplies, he went on, was 
inexcusable and "seriously endan- 
gered its existence and operations." 2 



2 Draft memo (no subj, no sig), de Lattre for 
Devers, 30 Sep 44. Apparently, this memo was 
never "formally" delivered to either Devers or 
Patch, but copies were used as a basis for discussion 
at both 6th Army Group and Seventh Army head- 
quarters on 1 October. De Lattre, History, pp. 194- 
95. 



300 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 




Generals Marshall, de Lattre, and Devers visit French First Army headquarters in 
Luxeuil, France, October 1944. 



In a memorandum he also included 
statistics showing that the First 
French Army, with five reinforced di- 
visions in the forward area, had re- 
ceived about 8,715 rail-tons of sup- 
plies between 20 and 28 September, 
while the Seventh Army, with three 
divisions at the front, had received 
roughly 18,920 rail-tons during the 
same period. 

In a subsequent conference to iron 
out these difficulties, Seventh Army 
representatives initially took the posi- 
tion that any supplies that the army 
could spare from VI Corps' al- 
locations had to be sent to the recent- 
ly acquired XV Corps. They also 
pointed out the 6th Army Group — no 
longer Seventh Army — was now re- 



sponsible for the logistical support of 
the First French Army. In private, 
Seventh Army logisticians believed 
that French supply problems 
stemmed largely from inadequacies in 
their own supply services. General 
Devers agreed in part, observing that 
the French had been slow to build up 
supply surpluses in the forward area. 
At the same time, however, he con- 
cluded that during its period of re- 
sponsibility for French supply, the 
Seventh Army had not adequately 
monitored logistical operations sup- 
porting de Lattre's forces and had 
generally favored Truscott's units in 
such matters. 

Based on these judgments, Devers 
instructed the Seventh Army to meet 



APPROACHING THE GAPS: BELFORT 



301 



the most urgent logistical require- 
ments of the First French Army. 
Therefore, after the conclusion 
of a series of conferences with First 
French Army representatives on 1 
October, the Seventh Army G-4 re- 
computed requirements and stocks 
and allocated 65,000 gallons of gaso- 
line, 53,000 rations, and about 280 
tons of ammunition to the French. An 
additional 60,000 gallons of gasoline 
were to be turned over to them on 2 
October, and the Seventh Army also 
agreed to make up daily shortages of 
rations and gasoline for the First 
French Army until a revised rail- 
supply schedule for the French went 
into effect on 4 October. 3 

For the moment de Lattre appeared 
satisfied. On 8 October, however, 
during a visit by General Marshall to 
the 6th Army Group, the French com- 
mander launched into another tirade 
about his supply problems, embar- 
rassing Devers and angering Mar- 
shall. 4 Later de Lattre more or less 
apologized to Devers over the inci- 
dent, but there were no easy answers 
to French logistical problems. A basic 
difficulty was the ability of the Sev- 
enth Army to consistently "outbid" 
the small French army headquarters 
for supplies and materiel; the larger, 
better-trained American staffs were 
simply more efficient in forecasting 
the logistical needs of their units and 
justifying those requests with detailed 
statistical data. In addition, the larger 
number of trained American supply 



3 Devers Diary, 1 Oct 44; Seventh Army Diary, 30 
Sep 44, 1 Oct 44; Seventh Army Conf File, Bk 7, 
Conf of 1 Oct 44; Seventh Army Rpt, II, 360. 

* See Devers Diary, 8 Oct 44; and Forrest C. 
Pogue, George C. Marshall: Organizer of the Victory, 
1943-1945 (New York: Viking, 1973), pp. 475-76. 



officers and agencies — depots, ac- 
counting offices, repair facilities, and 
so forth — allowed the Seventh Army 
to control its internal stockage and 
expenditure of supplies and equip- 
ment with an efficiency that the 
French understandably could not 
hope to match. As a result, 6th Army 
Group logisticians would have to step 
in at various times during the coming 
campaigns and approve special supply 
allocations to the French to make up 
for critical deficiencies. Until the 
French Army had been completely re-« 
built at some future date, there was 
no other solution. 

French Plans 

Early in October new French plans 
called for a major assault through the 
High Vosges north of the Belfort 
Gap, continuing and expanding de 
Monsabert's original effort. 5 Some- 
what chastened by his failure to take 
Le Thillot, de Monsabert believed 
that, despite the reinforcements sent 
by de Lattre, the II Corps lacked the 
strength to seize Gerardmer and push 
through the Schlucht Pass. Instead, 
he hoped to force a passage through 
the Vosges, taking a more southerly 



5 The following analysis of the French situation 
and plans is based on the following: de Lattre, Histo- 
ry, pp. 193-205; First Fr Army, Personal and Secret 
Instr 3, 30 Sep 44; First Fr Army SO 76, 4 Oct 44; 
II Fr Corps GO 26, 30 Sep 44; II Fr Corps GO 27, 
2 Oct 44; II Fr Corps GO 29, 4 Oct 44; I Fr Corps 
Genl Opns Order 6, 3 Oct 44; 5th Fr Armd Div Jnl 
de Marche, Sep-Oct 44. In addition to official 
French and American records, the following second- 
ary sources proved valuable in reconstructing the II 
Corps' October story: Le He C.A. Dans la Bataille Pour 
la Liberation de la France, pp. 28-48; La Premiere Divi- 
sion Blindee au Combat, pp. 73-82; Moreau, La Victoire 
Sous le Signe des Trots Croissants (Algiers: Editions 
Pierre Virillon, 1948), II, 162-92. 



302 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



route between Gerardmer and Le 
Thillot. The 3d Algerian Infantry Di- 
vision, redeploying from I Corps, was 
to take over II Corps' left to make the 
main thrust. The Algerians, covering 
on their left toward Gerardmer and 
the Schlucht Pass, were to aim their 
effort twenty-five miles east across the 
Vosges from the Longegoutte forest 
to Cornimont and La Bresse and ulti- 
mately to Guebwiller, at the edge of 
the Alsatian plain an d about th irteen 
miles south of Colmar (Map 22). 

In the center, du Vigier's 1st Ar- 
mored Division was to support the Al- 
gerian effort by renewing its attacks 
in the Le Thillot area and, if success- 
ful, was to continue eastward on 
Route N-66 through the Bussang 
Pass to St. Amarin and Cernay, seven 
miles south of Guebwiller. On the II 
Corps' right, or southern, wing, the 
French 1st Infantry Division was to 
act as a hinge anchoring the eastward 
attack in the vicinity of Ronchamp on 
Route N-19. Ultimately, de Monsa- 
bert hoped that the division would 
also be able to push eastward just 
above the city of Belfort. Meanwhile, 
opposite the Belfort Gap, the French 
I Corps, with the 2d Moroccan Divi- 
sion on the left and the 9th Colonial 
on the right, was to undertake a few 
limited attacks to tie down German 
forces that otherwise might be shifted 
to the II Corps front. 

De Lattre had initially wanted to 
add the strength of the French 5th 
Armored Division to the offensive. 
The 5th — the third and last of the 
three French armored divisions 
equipped by the Americans — had 
begun arriving in southern France 
from North Africa on 19 September 
but, because of French supply and 



transportation problems, would not 
close the front until the 20th of Octo- 
ber and consequently could play no 
part in the October attacks. Its arrival 
in France marked the last major ele- 
ments of the First French Army to 
reach the metropole. With only a few 
minor combat and service units of the 
approved French troop list remaining 
in North Africa or on Corsica, further 
French reinforcements would have to 
depend on local recruitment and 
training. 

In any case, what de Monsabert 
needed was not armor, but more in- 
fantry. With de Lattre's blessing, 
therefore, he reinforced the attacking 
units with the 2d and 3d Tabor 
Groups, the parachute regiment, the 
African Commando Group, and the 
Shock Battalion. In reserve he left the 
1st Moroccan Tabor Group, the 2d 
Algerian Spahis Reconnaissance Regi- 
ment (an armored reconnaissance 
squadron), and, when it arrived some- 
time after 4 October, the 6th Moroc- 
can Tirailleurs (a regimental combat 
team of the 4th Moroccan Mountain 
Division). De Monsabert also planned 
to employ a number of FFI units to 
the full extent of their capabilities. 

During the initial phase of the 
attack, de Monsabert wanted the 3d 
Algerian Division to push its left east 
across the Moselotte River in the 
Zainvillers and Thiefosse areas. Si- 
multaneously, its right was to drive 
north across the Longegoutte forest 
ridges through the Rahmne Pass, a 
little over two miles northeast of the 
Moselle. In the center, the 1st French 
Armored Division, reinforced heavily 
with light infantry, was to outflank Le 
Thillot on the north via the south- 
eastern portion of the Longegoutte 




MAP 22 



304 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 




3d Algerian Division Moves Up to the Rupt Area 



and Gehan forests and cut the 
German lines of communication be- 
tween the Moselotte valley and Le 
Thillot in a drive that would carry to 
Cornimont, on the upper Moselotte 
valley. At the same time the division 
was to continue pressure toward Le 
Thillot down Route N-66 southeast 
from Ferdrupt as well as along N-486 
from the southwest. 6 

The 3d Algerian Division began 
moving into its new sector early on 3 
October, and de Monsabert set 4 Oc- 



6 This description represents a great simplification 
of the French II Corps' General Operations Order 
29 of 4 October 1944. This order, quite detailed, is 
replete with subsidiary tasks, supporting and cover- 
ing maneuvers, and secondary routes of attack. Like 
most French Army orders, the II French Corps 
order contained far more detail than a corps-level 
field order of the U.S. Army during World War II. 



tober as the date his corps would 
start its new attack. All in all, de Mon- 
sabert would begin his October offen- 
sive with more strength than was 
available to Truscott's VI Corps. 

The German Defense 

At the beginning of October, Gen- 
eral Wiese's Nineteenth Army had two 
corps facing de Lattre's French 
forces, the IV Luftwaffe Field Corps in 
the High Vosges and the LXXXV 
Corps in the Belfort Gap, both now 
veteran organizations of the southern 
France campaign. 7 Facing de Monsa- 
bert's attacking II Corps, the IV 



7 On German operations, see von Luttichau, chs. 
19-21. 



APPROACHING THE GAPS: BELFORT 



305 



Luftwaffe Field Corps had on line, north 
to south, the 338th Infantry Division, 
the 308th Grenadiers of the 198th Divi- 
sion, and Regiment C/V. 8 The LXXXV 
Corps extended the German front 
south and southeast another twenty- 
five miles, blocking the southern ap- 
proaches to Belfort. Facing the far 
right of the French II Corps and most 
of Bethouart's I Corps, LXXXV Corps 
deployed across its front the rebuilt 
933d Grenadiers, 9 the 159th Reserve Di- 
vision, and three provisional bri- 
gades — Groups Degener, von Oppen, and 
Irmisch — employing an assortment of 
fortress units, police formations, and 
other odds and ends. 

Balck, Wiese's superior, decided 
that the Nineteenth Army urgently 
needed a strong, mobile tactical re- 
serve to supplement the small task 
force that the 11th Panzer Division had 
left behind; he, therefore, directed 
the First Army, on Army Group G's 
northern wing, to disengage the 106th 
Panzer Brigade and the 103d Panzer Bat- 
talion and dispatch both units south to 
the Belfort sector. 10 

Although primarily worried about 
the situation in the Rambervillers 
area, Balck was obviously concerned 
about the German defenses in the 
Belfort Gap. At the time he believed 
that French operations in late Sep- 
tember around Le Thillot presaged a 
more determined effort to outflank 
the gap on the north, but was equally 



8 Balck had recently given Wiese permission to 
commit Regiment C/V, another Wehrhreis V unit, to 
front-line duty. As reinforced at the front, Regiment 
C/V was also known as Group Kipfler. 

9 This unit was formerly part of the 244th Infantry 
Division, the rest of which had surrendered at Mar- 
seille in August. 

10 The brigade was a separate, nondivisional unit; 
the battalion was organic to the 3d Panzer Division. 



concerned about increasing French 
pressure directly toward Belfort from 
the west and south, an error made 
when German intelligence mistook 
the troop movements of de Lattre's 
organizational reshuffling for rein- 
forcements to the French forces op- 
posite the Belfort Gap. Looking over 
the collection of units in Wiese's two 
southern corps, he characterized their 
effectiveness as "deplorable," and 
complained that "never before have I 
led in battle such motley and poorly 
equipped troops." 11 Nevertheless, he 
finally decided to divert the small 
mobile reserves from the First Army — 
the 106th Panzer Brigade and the 103d 
Panzer Battalion — to the more critical 
Rambervillers-St. Die area at his 
center, leaving Wiese with only the 
detachment of the 11th Panzer Division 
as a reserve in the south. 12 Ultimately, 
the German forces in the south would 
have to make do with their own re- 
sources. 

The II French Corps ' October Offensive 

The renewed offensive of the 
French II Corps into the Vosges 
began on 4 October during weather — 
heavy rain and dense fog — that could 
hardly have been worse for either in- 
fantry or armor in the forested moun- 
tains. In general the revised French 
dispositions pitted the 3d Algerian 
Division against LXIV Corps' 198th 



"Ltr, Balck to Jodl, 10 Oct 44, cited in von Lutti- 
chau, "German Operations," ch. 20, p. 14. Al- 
though the letter was written on 10 October, there 
is ample evidence, that Balck held the same opinions 
at the beginning of the month. 

12 The force now consisted of an understrength 
panzer grenadier battalion, six tanks, and two self- 
propelled assault guns. 



306 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



Infantry Division in the Longegoutte 
and Gehan forests southeast of St. 
Ame; the French 1st Armored Divi- 
sion against the IV Luftwaffe Field 
Corps' 338th Infantry Division centered 
around Le Thillot and the surround- 
ing mountains; and the French 1st In ; 
fantry Division against assorted IV 
Luftwaffe and LXXXV Corps units south 
of Le Thillot. Although all the French 
divisions had been beefed up with ad- 
ditional infantry — Moroccans, para- 
troopers, FFI units, and so forth — 
they again made little progress during 
the first days of the offensive. De 
Monsabert quickly discovered that 
O'Daniel's 3d Division had done little 
more in the Rupt-Ferdrupt area than 
secure the Moselle River bridgeheads, 
and the attacking French found that 
they had to fight their way into the 
heights above the Moselle before they 
could even attempt to penetrate the 
Vosges valleys and passes beyond. 

On the 4th, the main body of the 
1st Armored Division made no 
progress toward Le Thillot, but on 
the division's left the attached 1st 
Parachute Chasseurs, spilling over 
into the 3d Algerian Division's sector, 
found gaps in the German defenses 
along the southern slopes of the Lon- 
gegoutte and Gehan forests, and 
pushed several miles north of the Mo- 
selle into the Broche and Morbieux 
passes. De Monsabert quickly decided 
to exploit the paratroopers' success 
and directed the armored division to 
concentrate all possible strength on 
its left for a rapid thrust northward 
through the two forests into the Mo- 
selotte valley. The rest of the division 
was to limit its operations to covering 
actions that would maintain some 
pressure on German forces along the 



rest of the division's front. 

Alarmed, the Germans began rein- 
forcing 338th Division 13 forces in the 
forests, but on the 5th the French ar- 
mored division again made significant 
gains. The left drove through 
Rahmne Pass to the northern slopes 
of the Longegoutte forest, while the 
right pushed through the Gehan 
forest over a mile east of the Mor- 
bieux Pass. The 338th Division there- 
upon pulled the 308th Grenadiers 14 out 
of the line and assembled the regi- 
ment for a counterattack on 6 Octo- 
ber. 

At first, the German attack achieved 
considerable success, forcing the 
French to pull back from the passes 
and several of the surrounding hills. 
Confused, bitter fighting raged for 
two days as units on both sides 
became isolated or cut off, and both 
French and German casualties mount- 
ed rapidly. Meanwhile, to the south, 
French armor had managed to push 
its way down Route N-66 along the 
north bank of the Moselle, but was fi- 
nally stopped one mile short of Le 
Thillot, again failing to take the key 
junction town. The Germans, howev- 
er, had no intention of holding on to 
the two forests. The 338th Division 
began to break off the action during 
the night of 7-8 October and the next 
night withdrew across the Moselotte, 
keeping only the northernmost sec- 
tion of the Gehan forest near Corni- 



13 On 4 October the 338th Division sent forward its 
headquarters guard company and the 338th Replace- 
ment Battalion, and on the next day the Nineteenth 
Army released two fortress machine-gun battalions 
to the division. 

14 This unit was a 198th Division regiment attached 
to the 338th Division. At the time the 338th also con- 
trolled Regiment C/V and its organic 757th Grenadier 
Regiment along its front. 



APPROACHING THE GAPS: BELFORT 



307 



mont, and leaving the French with 
their first foothold in the High 
Vosges. 

The initial affray had been expen- 
sive for the Germans — the 308th Gren- 
adiers lost over 200 men taken prison- 
er alone — and the Nineteenth Army had 
to scrape up reinforcements for both 
LXIV Corps and IV Luftwaffe Field Corps. 
The army now sent forward four for- 
tress machine-gun battalions, three 
fortress infantry battalions, and, dem- 
onstrating the scope of the German 
replacement problem, 150 troops 
from an NCO school at Colmar. 
Wiese also sent some assault guns 
and the small task force of the 11th 
Panzer Division northward from the 
Belfort area to Le Thillot, which had 
now become the key to the German 
defensive line in the area under 
attack. 

Taking up the offensive as the Ger- 
mans withdrew, the 3d Algerian Divi- 
sion began attacking east and south 
from the St. Ame area between 9 and 
13 October. Pushing only about six 
miles east of Vagney, its advance was 
continually hampered by foul weather 
and increasing supply problems. The 
inability of the II Corps to secure the 
road hub at Le Thillot forced the 
French to employ long, circuitous 
supply routes through St. Ame to 
support both the reinforced 3d Alge- 
rian Division and fully a third of the 
1st Armored Division. Driving across 
or along one forested height after an- 
other, the French gained control of 
high ground and muddy mountain 
trails, but German artillery, mortar, 
and antitank fire made it impossible 
for them to use the main, paved roads 
through the valleys. 

During the period 9-13 October 



progress was limited on the 3d Alge- 
rian Division's left, where flank pro- 
tection requirements and the need to 
take over American positions ab- 
sorbed much of its strength. Heavier 
fighting took place at the center and 
especially on the right, where the Al- 
gerians assumed responsibility for the 
Gehan forest sector. They cleared the 
last Germans from the northeastern 
part of the Gehan forest on 13 Octo- 
ber and the same day cut route N- 
486 near Travexin, a mile or so south 
of Cornimont, which fell to the 
French on 14 October after the de- 
parting Germans had burned down 
most of the village. 

Pausing briefly to redeploy units 
and build up supplies, the Algerians 
resumed the attack on 16 October. 
On the left the objective was La 
Bresse, a road junction town between 
Cornimont and Gerardmer. In this 
sector the 6th Moroccan Tirailleurs of 
the 4th Moroccan Mountain Division 
led off. 15 Crossing N-486 north of 
Cornimont, the Moroccans pushed up 
Hill 1003 (Le Haut du Faing), domi- 
nating the upper Moselotte valley as 
far as La Bresse. A bloody three-day 
battle ensued as the 6th Moroccans — 
suffering about 700 casualties in the 
process — first seized the broad height 
and then secured it against strong 
German counterattacks. However, the 
3d Algerian Division could make no 
substantive progress elsewhere during 
the period 16-18 October, and the 
Moroccan infantrymen found it im- 
possible to advance beyond Hill 1003. 



15 The 6th Moroccan Tirailleurs had previously 
been de Monsabert's reserve force and had been 
committed only with the concurrence of de Lattre. 



308 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



To the south, CC Deshazars 16 of 
the 1st French Armored Division 
drove east along the axis of Route D- 
43 from Travexin with the immediate 
objective of seizing the Oderen Pass, 
which would provide a rather indirect 
and difficult route across the High 
Vosges. The combat command's in- 
fantry advanced about two miles east 
of Travexin along high ground north 
and south of D-43, but the armor, in 
the face of German fire, could not 
break out of the mountain village. 
Beyond some isolated gains, the best 
the French armored division had to 
show after three days was possession 
of that portion of Route N-486 north 
of Le Thillot. But the achievement 
was of little value to the French as 
long as the Germans still controlled 
the junction of Routes N-66 and N- 
486 at Le Thillot itself and were able 
to resupply the town from the south. 

By 17 October General de Lattre 
had had enough. Never completely 
enamored of General de Monsabert's 
plan to drive across the High Vosges 
in a deep, northerly envelopment of 
the Belfort Gap, the First French 
Army commander, on 17 October, 
decided to bring the operation to a 
halt. While the II Corps had made 
substantial gains in the area north 
and northeast of Le Thillot across a 
front of nearly twelve miles, de Lattre 
concluded that they had been too 
costly and indecisive. Moreover, south 
of Le Thillot, the right wing of II 
Corps had made no significant 
progress. Nowhere were de Monsa- 



16 Formerly CC Sudre or CC1. On 29 September 
General Sudre became assistant division command- 
er, and Colonel Deshazars de Montgaillard, previ- 
ously Sudre's second in command, took over the 
unit. 



bert's forces ready or able to drive 
through the passes of the High 
Vosges and into the Belfort Gap or 
the Alsatian plains. Meanwhile, the 
transfer of troops and supplies to de 
Monsabert's forces had virtually im- 
mobilized General Bethouart's com- 
mand, which, during the first half of 
October, had had little opportunity to 
begin preparations for its own offen- 
sive directly through the Belfort Gap. 

Also evident to de Lattre, the 
forces of the II Corps had been ex- 
hausted by the slow forest fighting. 
The 3d Algerian Division and its at- 
tachments were spread thin in the 
mountains and valleys; the 6th Mo- 
roccan Tirailleurs had been chewed 
to bits in just three days of action; 
and the 1st Parachute Chasseurs (at- 
tached to the 1st French Armored Di- 
vision) was operating on little more 
than esprit de corps. The terrain, 
coupled with German artillery and 
antitank fire, had made it impossible 
for the French 1st Armored Division 
to bring its firepower to bear; its own 
infantry forces, some three battalions, 
were equally tired. Supply problems 
were increasing with every yard the 
French gained, while unusually poor 
weather (exceptionally early snow had 
already fallen in the Vosges) compli- 
cated both logistical and tactical oper- 
ations. 

To resume the attack, de Monsa- 
bert would need either fresh infantry 
reinforcements or direct assistance 
from Truscott's VI Corps. De Lattre 
realized that both solutions were out 
of the question. Truscott, resting the 
3d Division for his main attack on St. 
Die, was not about to shift the divi- 
sion back to Le Thillot; throwing 
more French strength into the Vosges 



APPROACHING THE GAPS: BELFORT 



309 



would probably force de Lattre to 
postpone his offensive against the 
Belfort Gap for several months. All 
the French infantry, except for mini- 
mum essential reserves and some 
poorly equipped FFI units of ques- 
tionable quality, had already been 
committed. Moreover, Devers was 
pressing de Lattre to relieve the 1st 
Airborne Task Force along the Rivi- 
era and in the Maritime Alps, a task 
that could only divert more French 
infantry from the Vosges and Belfort 
sections. Even worse, de Lattre soon 
learned, the French provisional gov- 
ernment was making plans to mount 
an all-French operation to secure the 
port of Bordeaux on the Atlantic 
coast, an effort that might force him 
to relinquish two of his divisions for 
at least several months. 

De Lattre thus concluded that the 
tactical situation, the state of his 
army, and the heavy rains, snowfalls, 
and freezing temperatures expected 
in the mountains (the early harsh 
weather of October seemed to fore- 
shadow a severe winter) made it im- 
practicable for the First French Army 
to push strong forces into Alsace 
except through the relatively easy ter- 
rain of the Belfort Gap. A resumption 
of de Monsabert's assault in the north 
could well result in immobilizing the 
bulk of the First French Army along 
the western slopes of the Vosges until 
springtime. Instead, de Lattre decid- 
ed, his offensive center of gravity 
would have to be shifted back to the 
Belfort Gap sector, and preparations 
to launch his long-planned offensive 
there would be given first priority. 
Henceforth, de Monsabert's activities 
would be limited to consolidating the 
gains already made, while conducting 



limited patrols and perhaps some 
minor offensive actions to keep 
German attention focused on the 
area. 

General de Monsabert learned of 
de Lattre's decision on 17 October 
and formally halted the corps' Vosges 
offensive the next day. Although dis- 
appointed that his attacks had not 
made greater gains, he continued to 
feel, with characteristic optimism, that 
further reinforcements would have al- 
lowed the II Corps to regain its mo- 
mentum and drive through the 
Vosges passes within a short time. 
Yet, de Monsabert could find some 
satisfaction in his corps' accomplish- 
ments since the beginning of Octo- 
ber. The II Corps had freed oyer 200 
square miles of French soil; had 
driven the enemy from many French 
towns, villages, and hamlets; had lib- 
erated thousands of French citizens; 
and, by French estimates, had killed 
about 3,300 Germans and captured 
over 2,000 more during the period 1- 
18 October — the equivalent of nine 
German infantry battalions. 17 The 
command had also forced the Ger- 
mans to reinforce their front with 
numerous infantry and weapons bat- 
talions from the main Weststellung po- 
sitions, thereby weakening that defen- 
sive line; it had likewise prompted the 
Germans to redeploy other troops 
from the Belfort Gap sector to bolster 
the Vosges front. The French offen- 
sive had even forced the German 
commanders to import additional re- 
inforcements into the Vosges from 
other areas, including Germany 



"Based on sketchy sources, French casualties to- 
taled about 450 men killed and 2,000 wounded 
during the same period. 



310 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



proper. Finally, under the most miser- 
able conditions of terrain and weather 
and while facing shortages of artillery 
ammunition and other supply prob- 
lems, the French II Corps had beaten 
back the strongest counterattacks the 
Germans would mount. 

Perhaps de Monsabert's real prob- 
lem was the inability of Devers at this 
stage to coordinate the efforts of the 
Seventh Army with those of the 
French and to move the full weight of 



the 6th Army Group against the 
German defenses. However, as in the 
north, such a unified offensive would 
have to wait for major improvements 
in the Allied supply situation. In the 
meantime, it remained to be seen 
whether Truscott's VI Corps or Beth- 
ouart's I Corps could profit from the 
sacrifices of de Monsabert's forces 
and the attention that Wiese and 
Balck had been forced to pay to the 
southern Vosges. 



CHAPTER XVII 



Into the High Vosges 



While the U.S. XV Corps and the 
French II Corps undertook only limit- 
ed operations during the second half of 
October, VI Corps resumed its drive 
toward St. Die on the 15th. 1 The re- 
newed attack had several objectives. 
First was the seizure of Bruyeres and 
Brouvelieures. To sustain the offensive 
toward St. Die, the VI Corps still 
needed the rail and highway facilities in 
this region, lying at the center of the 
corps' axis of advance. Second, Trus- 
cott wanted to secure a suitable line of 
departure along the constantly rising, 
forested terrain east and northeast of 
Bruyeres and Brouvelieures. With 
these areas in hand, the VI Corps could 
begin its main attack — a three-division 
drive on St. Die — on or about 23 Octo- 
ber, spearheaded by O'Daniel's 3d Di- 
vision. Appropriately named Oper- 
ation Dogface, the attack was to carry 
the VI Corps at least as far as the high 
ground that overlooked a ten-mile 
stretch of the Meurthe River valley and 



Route N-59 between St. Die and Raon- 



'The successive American plans are based on the 
following sources: Seventh Army Rpt, II, 363-64, 370- 
71; Seventh Army Diary, entries of 11, 15, and 19 
Oct 44; VI Corps OI 1, 11 Oct 44; VI Corps FO 4, 
13 Oct 44; VI Corps FO 5, 19 Oct 44; VI Corps OP 
Plan Dogface, 15 Oct 44; Msg, VI Corps to 45th 
Div, 212100A Oct 44; 3d Inf Div OI 89, 19 Oct 44; 
36th Inf Div OI 12200A Oct 44; 36th Inf Div OI 
191500A Oct 44; 45th Inf Div OI 1, 12 Oct 44. 



l'Etape (Map 23). Dogface, in turn, 
would constitute a prelude to an even 
larger offensive scheduled by Devers 
for mid-November, which would push 
the entire 6th Army Group over the 
Vosges and through the Belfort Gap. 

Planning the Attack 

General Truscott, commanding the 
VI Corps, had no illusions about the 
difficulties of carrying Dogface 
through to a rapid conclusion, or even 
of quickly executing the preliminaries 
of the operation against Brouvelieures 
and Bruyeres that were to begin on 15 
October. While VI Corps' general 
supply situation had improved since 
the beginning of the month, some 
problems remained. The distribution 
of winter clothing was far from com- 
plete, critical shortages of mortar and 
artillery ammunition persisted, and 
even stricter rationing had to be im- 
posed on artillery expenditures. The 
13 th Field Artillery Battalion of the 
36th Division, for example, estimated 
that during the last half of October the 
unit could have fired a ten-day ration of 
its 105-mm. howitzer ammunition 
profitably in about ten minutes. Fur- 
thermore, Truscott felt that the VI 



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45 



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CORPS ZONE 

14 October 1944 
German Vosges Foothill Position 



MAP 23 



INTO THE HIGH VOSGES 



313 



Corps lacked the heavy artillery needed 
for mountain fighting in the Vosges. 
About the only bright spot in the pic- 
ture was the availability of ample am- 
munition for tanks and tank destroyers 
as well as for the cannon companies of 
the infantry regiments. But how much 
use the armor would be in the increas- 
ingly difficult terrain was very hard to 
predict. 

Truscott also had misgivings about 
the condition of his infantry. For the 
Dogface preliminaries against the 
Bruyeres-Brouvelieures region, the 
picture was particularly bleak. On the 
north the 157th Infantry of the 45th 
Division and the 1 17th Cavalry Squad- 
ron were fully occupied with securing 
the VI Corps' left flank at Ramber- 
villers and maintaining contact with the 
XV Corps. Until the 3d Division's 
thrust, which was to pass through the 
45th Division's right, allowed the 45th 
to redeploy strength northward, the 
157th and 117th could contribute 
little, leaving the burden of the fighting 
to the 179th and 180th regiments. But 
these two units had not yet recovered 
from their failure in early October to 
seize Bruyeres and Brouvelieures, and 
both were still tired and understrength. 

The status of the 36th Division was 
mixed. The division had been rein- 
forced for the 15 October prelimi- 
naries by the Japanese-American 442d 
Regimental Combat Team. This unit, 
composed primarily of American citi- 
zens of Japanese ancestry, had arrived 
in France from Italy at the end of Sep- 
tember and was experienced and rela- 
tively fresh. 2 However, the efforts of 



2 Additional information on the operations of the 
442d Regimental Combat Team can be found in 
Orville C. Shirey, Americans: The Story of the 44 2d 



the 36th Division to rotate its infantry 
battalions in the line during the first 
half of October had been only partially 
successful in providing rest and reha- 
bilitation. In addition, all of the divi- 
sion's nine infantry battalions had a se- 
rious shortage of foot soldiers, with the 
individual rifle companies averaging 
about 121 officers and enlisted men 
out of an authorized strength of 193 
(but the 442d's companies averaged 
180 men). 

For the attacks on the Bruyeres- 
Brouvelieures area, the 36th Division 
would have available only the 442d 
and 143d Infantry regiments. The 
rest of the division was temporarily 
confined to defensive roles, covering 
the corps' right flank and relieving 
the 3d Division's 30th Infantry in the 
Le Tholy-La Forge sector. The 36th 
Division's right-flank units (and the 
30th Infantry as well) were also to 
participate in a deception effort de- 
signed to make the Germans believe 
that the 3d Division, rather than rede- 
ploying, was actually concentrating 
for an attack eastward from the Le 



Combat Team (Washington, D.C.: Infantry Journal 
Press, 1946), pp. 49-72. For previous operations of 
the 442d regiment in Italy, see Fisher, Cassino to the 
Alps, chs. 14-15. The last elements of the 442d had 
pulled out of the front lines in Italy on 6 Septem- 
ber. In addition to the 442d Infantry, the regimental 
combat team's principal components were the 522d 
Field Artillery Battalion (105-mm. howitzers) and 
the 232d Combat Engineer Company. For the 15 
October attack, attachments to the 442d included 
the 36th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop, 36th Divi- 
sion; Company B, 753d Tank Battalion; Company 
C, 636th Tank Destroyer Battalion; Company D, 
83d Chemical Mortar Battalion; and the 886th Med- 
ical Collecting Company. The regiment had a con- 
tinuous problem with infantry shortages caused by 
the lack of qualified Japanese-American (Nisei) re- 
placements in the NATOUSA replacement system. 
While still in Italy in late September the 442d had 
received about 675 replacements, but most arrived 
directly from the United States. 



314 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



Tholy area toward Gerardmer in con- 
junction with the French II Corps of- 
fensive to the south. 

Truscott expected that the 3d Divi- 
sion's infantry would be in better 
shape for the main Dogface offen- 
sive. While the 36th and 45th Divi- 
sions were securing Brouvelieures 
and Bruyeres between 15 and 23 Oc- 
tober, O'Daniel's division would be 
resting at least two of its infantry 
regiments, the 7th and the 15th, for 
one week or more following their 
relief by French II Corps forces. 
However, the division's 30th Infantry, 
holding defensively in the Le Tholy- 
La Forge area, might not be available 
until later; therefore, the 3d Division 
would probably have to begin its 
attack toward St. Die, the main Dog- 
face effort, with only two-thirds of its 
combat strength. 

Truscott also worried about the ter- 
rain and weather his troops would be 
facing during both the preliminary 
operations and Dogface itself. His 
staff expected that precipitation 
would increase during the last half of 
October, with rain, wet snow, fog, 
mist, and low-hanging clouds continu- 
ing to hinder both tactical air support 
and airborne forward observers (artil- 
lery spotters in light aircraft). On the 
ground, forward artillery observers 
would often be unable to see poten- 
tial targets or analyze the results of 
friendly fire. The rising, rough, and 
often densely forested terrain lying 
on the corps' route of advance would 
also complicate the problems of artil- 
lery registration and observation. 
Compared to the Vosges, the affair of 
the XV Corps in the Forest of Parroy 
would appear tame. 

The rugged Vosges terrain contin- 



ued to provide the Germans with 
various natural defensive advan- 
tages — advantages which they could 
be expected to improve on through- 
out the coming battle. To the left of 
Route N-420 — the main road leading 
to St. Die — the vast, wooded ridge 
and mountain complex of the Ram- 
bervillers forest stretched northward 
over eight miles to Route N-59A, 
linking the towns of Rambervillers 
and Raon-l'Etape. The main part of 
the forest averaged about five miles in 
width, west to east; but a southeaster- 
ly portion, the Magdeleine woods, ex- 
tended another five miles to culmi- 
nate in heights of some 2,100 feet 
overlooking St. Die. Between Routes 
N-59A and N-420 only one second- 
class road, Route D-32, penetrated 
the difficult terrain, although many 
lesser unpaved roads, trails, and 
tracks cut through all reaches of the 
old forest. 

To the right and south of Route N- 
420 lay the equally rugged and wooded 
terrain of the Domaniale de Champ 
forest, bisected only by a third-class 
road, D-31, which passed along the 
valley floor of the small Neune and 
Taintrux streams. East of D-31 the ter- 
rain was equally difficult until reaching 
the Meurthe River valley and the 
north-south Route N-415, which 
linked St. Die with Gerardmer and 
roughly constituted the VI Corps' 
right, or southern, boundary. 

In the Dogface preliminaries, the 
center and right of the 45th Division, 
with the 180th Infantry on the north 
and the 179th to the south, were to 
seize Brouvelieures and then push 
north of the Mortagne River, east and 
west of Route N-420. The 180th In- 
fantry would first clear the high, 



INTO THE HIGH VOSGES 



315 



wooded ground that the Germans still 
held west of Brouvelieures, including 
Hill 385. At the same time, the 179th 
Infantry would seize Brouvelieures 
from the south and, in support of the 
36th Division's attack on Bruyeres, 
clear the forested hills between the 
two towns. Once these tasks had been 
accomplished, the two regiments 
would secure forward assembly areas 
across the Mortagne River for the 
main Dogface attack. 

As its share of the Dogface prelimi- 
naries, the 36th Division was to ad- 
vance north, with the attached 442d 
Regimental Combat Team on the left 
and its organic 143d regiment on the 
right. The 442d, striking east across 
wooded hills west of Bruyeres, would 
seize the town, clear the surrounding 
heights, and then push a few miles far- 
ther to the village of Belmont, coming 
abreast of the 45th Division units on its 
left. Meanwhile, the 143d Infantry 
would secure crossings over the Vo- 
logne River in the Laval region and 
then head northeast along the Neune 
River valley to Biffontaine, four miles 
east of Bruyeres, thereby anchoring the 
right flank of the assembly area. The 
rest of the 36th Division was to hold 
defensive positions along high ground 
south of Biffontaine, ultimately reliev- 
ing the 30th Infantry, 3d Division, in 
the Le Tholy area. 

The 36th Division thus had an ex- 
tended front — over ten miles from 
Biffontaine to Le Tholy — but Trus- 
cott evidently felt the division would 
have little problem with the task. The 
battles during the first half of Octo- 
ber had seriously depleted German 
strength in the area between the Vo- 
logne River and Le Tholy, and Trus- 
cott estimated that planned deception 



operations and limited French pres- 
sure would keep the Germans on the 
defensive in this sector. Then, when 
the 3d Division began its surprise 
attack toward St. Die, German atten- 
tion would be diverted from the 36th 
Division's right flank to the center of 
the VI Corps' zone. The risks seemed 
acceptable. 

Finally, during the Dogface pre- 
liminaries the 3d Division was to re- 
deploy secretly to positions behind 
the center and right of the 45th Divi- 
sion. From there the 3d Division 
would eventually lead the main attack 
on 23 October, striking through the 
45th Division and pushing toward St. 
Die generally on the edge of the 
Rambervillers forest between Routes 
D-32 and N-420. Once the 3d Divi- 
sion's surprise attack was well along, 
the 45th Division would shift its 
strength northward to clear the north- 
ern section of the Rambervillers 
forest from D-32 to Route N-59A, 
and the 36th Division would push 
east through the Domaniale de 
Champ forest, further anchoring the 
corps' right flank. 

German Deployments 

On 15 October the Fifth Panzer 
Army's XLVII Panzer Corps still held a 
23-mile front that included the rough- 
ly six miles between Rambervillers 
and Bruyeres. 3 At the time, the 21st 
Panzer Division had responsibility for 
the northern part of the Ramber- 
villers-Bruyeres sector, and the 16th 
Volksgrenadier Division had the southern 



'German information in this chapter is based 
largely on von Luttichau, "German Operations," 
chs. 19 and especially 21. 



316 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



half; the small town of Autry on 
Route D-50 marked the boundary be- 
tween the two units. Below the 
Bruyeres region, the Nineteenth Army's 
LXIV Corps covered from Laval south 
through the area around Le Tholy 
with the 716th and 198th Divisions. 
The Germans, however, were in the 
midst of another command and con- 
trol reorganization that was to cause 
some confusion during the ensuing 
battle. On 17 October, XLVII Panzer 
Corps headquarters was scheduled to 
be replaced by the LXXXIX Corps 
under Lt. Gen. Werner Freiherr von 
und zu Gilsa and responsibility for 
the corps zone would be transferred 
to the Nineteenth Army.* While the 
panzer corps was leaving for the Army 
Group B front, von Gilsa arrived on 
the 17th, but with only his chief of 
staff and little else; it would be 23 
October before his corps staff was as- 
sembled and fully operational. 

Additional strength available to the 
Nineteenth Army included four fortress 
infantry regiments and twenty fortress 
battalions (infantry, machine gun, or 
artillery). By 15 October three of the 
four fortress infantry regiments were 
fully committed to the front lines, as 
were all but one or two of the fortress 
battalions; most were in the process 
of being absorbed into the regular in- 
fantry divisions. Thus, according to 
the German system of accounting, 
von Gilsa's LXXXIX Corps had per- 
haps 22,000 combat effectives, and 
the LXIV Corps, under General 
Thumm, had as many as 18,000. Al- 



4 As related earlier, von Manteuffel's Fifth Panzer 
Army headquarters also left about the same time, 
and its northern corps, the LVlll Panzer Corps, tem- 
porarily became part of the First Army. 



though the bulk of these troops could 
be considered adequate for defensive 
purposes only, the figures contrasted 
sharply with Seventh Army G-2 esti- 
mates in October, which gave the 
LXXXIX Corps only 5,200 combat ef- 
fectives and the LXIV Corps no more 
than 3,000. The low American figures 
probably reflected the inability of 
Allied intelligence to track the 
German fortress (Weststellung) units 
and their incorporation into the line 
infantry divisions. During the entire 
month of October, for example, the 
Seventh Army G-2 could account for 
only six of the nineteen fortress bat- 
talions that the Germans committed 
to forward defensive roles, and by the 
end of the month the G-2 assess- 
ments allowed for only one of the 
three Wehrkreis V fortress infantry 
regiments also deployed to the front. 5 
Beyond the Weststellung units, Gener- 
al Wiese of Nineteenth Army could expect 
few reinforcements to feed into the 
front lines or to form any reserve. 
Scheduled arrivals for the last half of 
October included the 201st and 202d 
Mountain Battalions, light infantry units 
of about 1,000 men each. 6 Wiese was 
also to receive an understrength infan- 
try battalion consisting of troops on 
probation from courts-martial and a 
similar unit made up of men suffering 
or recovering from ear ailments. 



5 The German strength figures are cited in von 
Luttichau, "German Operations," ch. 21 (for back- 
ground on the Wehrkreis V regiments, see ibid., ch. 
19); the American estimates are from "G-2 History: 
Seventh Army Operations in Europe," III, 1-31 Oct 
44, William W. Quinn Papers, MHI. 

6 A large proportion of the troops of these two 
battalions had previously been members of moun- 
tain divisions, and more than 50 percent of these 
troops, especially the officers and senior NCOs, 
were experienced. 



INTO THE HIGH VOSGES 



317 



The Nineteenth Army's main armored 
reserve in mid-October was the 106th 
Panzer Brigade, actually little more 
than a reduced tank battalion rein- 
forced with supporting combat and 
service units that rendered the "bri- 
gade" somewhat self-sufficient. On 15 
October the 106th was stationed in 
the IV Luftwaffe Field Corps' sector 
south of the LXIV Corps. Also in re- 
serve was the 1st Battalion, 130th 
Panzer Regiment, located near Cor- 
cieux, in the LXIV Corps ' sector, about 
eight miles east of Bruyeres. 7 

The Nineteenth Army's artillery was in 
better shape. The supply of artillery 
and mortar ammunition had increased 
considerably, and the transfer of for- 
tress artillery battalions to front-line 
support helped to augment defensive 
fires. Shorter and more stabilized 
lines of communication, developing as 
the Germans grudgingly fell back to 
the east, further eased ammunition 
supply problems, while inclement 
weather aided German efforts to 
move ammunition and troops on 
highways and railroads during day- 
light hours by limiting Allied air 
interdiction strikes. In addition, Allied 
artillery ammunition shortages re- 
stricted the amount of fire used to 
harass German supply operations, es- 
pecially in the VI Corps area where 
Truscott was trying to build up his 
stocks for direct combat support mis- 
sions. Finally each German division in 
front of the VI Corps had been rein- 
forced by an antiaircraft battalion, the 
batteries of which were generally po- 
sitioned at critical points, readily 



7 Some minor elements of the 11th Panzer Division 
were still in the Nineteenth Army's zone on 15 Octo- 
ber, but were soon to move north to the First Army. 



available for ground support roles. 

The missions and tactics of Nine- 
teenth Army remained unaltered. Gen- 
eral Balck of Army Group G still in- 
sisted that Wiese's units hold well for- 
ward of the main Weststellung positions 
and counterattack all Allied penetra- 
tions of their forward defensive lines. 
Rejecting the argument that an imme- 
diate withdrawal to the Weststellung 
would conserve both men and materi- 
el, Balck still hoped that his delaying 
tactics would gain the time needed to 
complete the Weststellung fortifications 
and to man the defenses with newly 
organized fortress units from Germa- 
ny. The transferral of so many for- 
tress units to the Nineteenth Army's for- 
ward defenses and the continual 
delays in the various Weststellung con- 
struction projects because of poor 
weather and labor shortages only in- 
creased his determination to make a 
stand well forward of the Vosges Foot- 
hill Position, the Weststellung' s first line 
of defense on the east bank of the 
Meurthe River. 8 

West of the Vosges Foothill Position, 
the Germans constructed only hasty 
field fortifications. However, from 
bitter experience VI Corps troops 
knew that the so-called hasty defenses 
they would encounter in the heavily 
forested high ground lying north and 
south of Route 420 could be formida- 
ble. All roads and trails would be 



8 The Vosges Foothill Position began on the Rhine- 
Marne Canal at Lagarde, about twelve miles north- 
east of Luneville. The line ran south to the Meurthe 
at Baccarat, followed the east bank of the river past 
Raon-l'Etape and St. Die to the vicinity of Fraize, 
seven miles south of St. Die, and extended on south 
past Le Thillot to tie into the defenses of the Bel- 
fort Gap. Farther east, generally following the crest 
of the Vosges Mountains, lay the Vosges Ridge Posi- 
tion, the final Weststellung defensive line. 



318 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



blocked by tangles of felled trees, and 
most barriers .would be booby- 
trapped, mined, covered by machine- 
gun fire, or carefully targeted by 
German mortars and artillery. Numer- 
ous infantry strongpoints, often well 
concealed, covered by tree trunks, 
and supported by artillery and anti- 
tank weapons, would have to be labo- 
riously eliminated one by one. All but 
the best-paved roads would break up 
under heavy military traffic, and wet 
weather would quickly turn lesser 
roads and mountain trails into quag- 
mires. Elaborate minefields could be 
expected on critical open ground, and 
randomly sown mines and booby 
traps along roads and trails. Tree 
bursts from German artillery had 
proved especially troublesome in such 
terrain, and the VI Corps' infantry- 
men would also encounter increasing 
amounts of barbed-wire entangle- 
ments wherever they went. 

The Preliminary Attacks 

Elements of the 45th Division's 
180th Infantry began the offensive 
early. On 14 October the regiment 
cleared the last Germans from bat- 
tered Hill 385 overlooking the 
Mortagne valley and, with its rear se- 
cured, began advancing toward Brou- 
velieures; the 179th Infantry joined 
the effort on the following day. For 
the next four days the two regiments 
slowly pushed back into the wooded 
ridges and hills that they had aban- 
doned after the German counterattack 
of 6 October, confirming that the 
16th Volksgrenadier Division had made 
good use of the intervening days to 
improve old defenses and construct 
new ones. 



Progress against determined resist- 
ance was slow but steady. On 19 Oc- 
tober General Eagles reinforced the 
179th Infantry with a battalion of the 
157th from Rambervillers, and by the 
21st, after repeated attacks, the units 
found German resistance in the area 
beginning to collapse. By 1540 that 
afternoon the 179th Infantry had 
troops in Brouvelieures, where house- 
to-house fighting continued until 
dark, while advance units of the 3d 
Division came up from the south to 
secure an intact bridge over the Mor- 
tagne a mile north of Brouvelieures. 
The following day, 22 October, the 
179th and 180th Infantry regiments 
mopped up west of the Mortagne; 
however, elements of the 180th, at- 
tempting to seize another bridge, had 
to fall back west of the river in the 
face of heavy German fire, and the 
defenders quickly destroyed the span. 
Although successful in occupying 
Brouvelieures, Eagles wondered if his 
division would still have to fight its 
way north over the Mortagne River to 
secure the assembly areas for Trus- 
cott. 

The slow advance of the 45 th Divi- 
sion was balanced by the surprisingly 
rapid progress of Dahlquist's 36th Di- 
vision on the corps' right wing. Al- 
though fighting across well-defended 
forested ridges and hills, staving off 
numerous small German counterat- 
tacks, and subject to heavy German 
artillery and mortar fire, the fresh 
442d Infantry had cleared the hills 
immediately west and north of 
Bruyeres late in the afternoon of 18 
October, unhinging the German de- 
fenses at Bruyeres and forcing the 
716th Division's right wing to with- 
draw. South of Bruyeres, Laval fell to 



INTO THE HIGH VOSGES 



319 



3fi 



Japanese-American Infantry (442d RCT) in Hills Around Bruyeres 



the 143d Infantry on 15 October, and 
the regiment had secured several 
crossings over the Vologne River by 
the 17th. On 18 October the 143d 
began pushing into Bruyeres from the 
south, while the 442d probed into the 
city from the north and west; patrols 
from the two units began to run into 
one another early that evening. The 
next day the 143d Infantry took over 
the burden of clearing artillery-shat- 
tered Bruyeres, while the 442d se- 
cured the heights east of the town 
and began advancing farther north 
toward Belmont and the Domaniale 
de Champ forest. 

The 3d Division Attacks 

The slow progress of the 45th Divi- 



sion and the success of the 36th re- 
sulted in Truscott's modifying his 
plans for the main attack. By noon of 
19 October he realized that a danger- 
ous gap was growing between the two 
attacking divisions because of their 
disparate rates of advance. But he 
also believed that adhering to his 
original plan and holding the 36th Di- 
vision in the Bruyeres area to wait for 
the 45th to cross the Mortagne River 
would only destroy the momentum of 
the 36th's attack and give the Ger- 
mans time to reform their crumbling 
defenses. Accordingly, on 19 Octo- 
ber, Truscott asked General O'Daniel 
if one of the 3d Division's waiting 
regiments, either the 7th or 15th, 
could move into the line between the 
36th and 45th Divisions on 20 Octo- 



320 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



ber from the regimental assembly 
areas near Remiremont. With O'Dan- 
iel's assurance that at least one and 
possibly both regiments could be 
ready by noon on the 20th, Truscott 
ordered the 3d Division to begin its 
attack at once, passing through the 
Brouvelieures-Bruyeres area and ad- 
vancing northeast on Route N-420, 
while pushing into the wooded hills 
on both sides of the highway. When 
available, the 30th Infantry could be 
committed on the division's left. The 
new plan, in effect, made the 3d Divi- 
sion responsible for securing much of 
the 45th Division's portion of the 
Dogface line of departure as well as 
for taking over the 45th Division's 
mission to attack northeast along 
Route N-420. Nevertheless, it en- 
abled Truscott to take advantage of 
the new tactical situation of the VI 
Corps and focused the combat power 
of O'Daniel's 3d Division on a nar- 
rower route of advance without any 
loss of momentum. 

During the afternoon of 20 October 
the 3d Division's 7th Infantry secured 
a key road junction about midway be- 
tween Bruyeres and Brouvelieures 
and cleared a steep-sided hill mass 
immediately east of the crossroads. 
Late in the day the 15th Infantry as- 
sembled near the junction, and both 
regiments began preparations for a 
major push north up Route N-420 
the following morning. To all intents 
and purposes, the Dogface operation 
itself would commence three days 
earlier than Truscott had planned. 

The progress of the 3d Division 
was rapid. By the 22d the attacking 
regiments were approaching Les 
Rouges Eaux, about halfway to St. 
Die, forcing remnants of the 1 6th 



Volksgrenadier Division back into the 
forests on either side of the road. At 
the same time the success of the 3d 
Division made conditions easier for 
the 36th, which was operating east of 
N-420. On 22 October the 36th Divi- 
sion's Felber Force, an ad hoc ar- 
mored task force commanded by Lt. 
Col. Joseph G. Felber, 9 secured Bel- 
mont; meanwhile, the 442d and 143d 
regiments fought their way across the 
southern sector of the Domaniale de 
Champ forest through elements of 
the 716th Division, halting only after 
reaching the high wooded ground 
above the Neune River valley just 
short of Biffontaine. 10 In doing so, 
the 36th Division had accomplished 
its part of the initial Dogface objec- 
tives and, as a bonus, had driven a 
wedge between the LXXXIX Corps' 
16th Volksgrenadier Division and the 
LXIV Corps' 716th Division. 

The successes of both the 3d and 
36th Divisions were the product of 
Truscott's rapid change of plans. In 
addition, the deception operations of 
the VI Corps and the French II Corps 
had succeeded admirably in keeping 
German attention focused on the 
Gerardmer sector of the Vosges front. 
Not until the morning of 23 October 
did the Nineteenth Army learn of the 3d 
Division's redeployment to the VI 



9 This particular Felber Force, only one of many 
led by Colonel Felber, who commanded the 753d 
Tank Battalion, consisted of the 753d Tank Battal- 
ion (less Companies A, C, and D); 36th Cavalry Re- 
connaissance Troop, 36th Division; Company C 
( — ), 636th Tank Destroyer Battalion; Company A 
(— ), 442d Infantry; and Platoon, 111th Engineer 
Battalion, 36th Division. 

10 German sources state that American troops cap- 
tured Biffontaine on 22 October, but American 
records show that the 442d Infantry did not secure 
the town until after a four-hour, house-to-house 
fight on the 23d. 



INTO THE HIGH VOSGES 



321 



Corps' center, but by then Truscott's 
forces had driven a deep salient into 
the German forward defenses in the 
Bruyeres sector, and the resulting 
confusion in the German front lines 
made it even more difficult to move 
local reinforcements to the threatened 
area. On the evening of 22 October, 
Truscott was thus justified in feeling 
that once again the German forces 
across his front were on the verge of 
complete collapse. 

However encouraging, the develop- 
ing situation forced Truscott to make 
further revisions in his Dogface plans 
on the 22d. n On his left, or northern, 
flank, the 45th Division was preparing 
to cross the Mortagne River in 
strength north of Brouvelieures that 
night. In the center, the 3d Division's 
surprise attack had exceeded expecta- 
tions, and its two attacking regiments 
were well on their way to St. Die. On 
the right, the 36th Division had two 
regiments in sight of the Biffontaine 
objective line; in accordance with the 
basic Dogface concept, both units 
were ready to move on to clear the 
northern and eastern sections of the 
Domaniale de Champ. 

For the moment, Truscott decided 
to leave the corps' current disposi- 
tions unchanged. With the 3d Divi- 
sion now making the main effort via 
N-420, he directed the 45th Division 



11 The new plans described here developed mainly 
during the course of 22 October, with written 
orders being issued on the 23d. Sources for the new 
plans included the following: Telecon, CG VI Corps 
and CG 3d Inf Div, 220745A Oct 44; Telecon, CG 
VI Corps and CG 45th Inf Div, 220855A Oct 44; 
Telecon, G-3 VI Corps and G-3 3d Inf Div, 
221105A Oct 44; Telecons, CofS 3d Inf Div and 
COs 7th, 15th, and 30th Inf Regts, 22 Oct; VI 
Corps FO 6, 23 Oct 44; 3d Inf Div OIs 90 and 94, 
23 Oct 44; 36th Inf Div OI 221400A Oct 44; 45th 
Inf Div OI 2, 23 Oct 44. 



to clear the Rambervillers forest area, 
advancing first across the Mortagne 
River and then pushing north, using 
Route D-32 as a phase line. The 45th 
Division's 157th regiment would join 
the effort from Rambervillers, and the 
final objectives of the division would 
take it to Routes N-59, N-59A, Raon- 
l'Etape, and the Meurthe River valley. 
The 36th Engineer Combat Regi- 
ment 12 and the 117th Cavalry Squad- 
ron, both under direct corps control, 
would guard the 45th Division's left 
flank and maintain contact with the 
XV Corps' French 2d Armored Divi- 
sion north of Rambervillers. 

In the VI Corps center the 3d Divi- 
sion's immediate mission was to seize 
the road junction town of Les Rouges 
Eaux on Route N-420. Once this 
town was secured, O'Daniel wanted 
one of his regiments to advance 
northeast toward La Bourgonce, 
taking the high ground on the north 
side of Route N-420; meanwhile, the 
rest of the division would push east 
down both sides of the road, securing 
it as the corps' main supply route and 
occupying the high ground in the 
Magdeleine woods, overlooking St. 
Die. The division's ultimate objective 
was a three-mile stretch of the west 
bank of the Meurthe just north of St. 
Die, but not the city itself, the larger 
part of which lay on the opposite side 
of the river. 

Truscott's new plans also envisioned 
more extensive objectives for the 36th 
Division. On the left the 442d Infantry 
was to clear the northern part of the 
Domaniale de Champ forest and then 
assemble in reserve at Belmont. In the 
division's center, the 143d regiment 



A nondivisional unit attached to VI Corps. 



322 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



was to hold in place while the 141st 
continued the attack, pushing through 
the eastern section of the Domaniale 
de Champ and securing the high 
ground that overlooked La Houssiere. 
The regiment's final objective was the 
forested hills just west of St. Leonard, a 
railroad town on Route N-415 about 
five miles farther east of La Houssiere 
and a similar distance south of St. Die. 
Once in reserve, the 442d would assist 
the 141st as necessary. On the divi- 
sion's (and the corps') right flank, the 
143d and 142d Regimental Combat 
Teams, north to south, would defend 
the area from Biffontaine south to the 
vicinity of Le Tholy; ultimately they 
would relieve the 3d Division's 30th 
regiment still in the Le Tholy area and 
mesh with the French II Corps' 3d Al- 
gerian Division. 

Truscott, however, would never see 
his revised Dogface plans executed. 
Destined for a higher level command in 
the Italian theater, he turned over the 
VI Corps to Maj. Gen. Edward H. 
Brooks at noon on 25 October and left 
the Vosges front. 13 The Seventh Army 



"Truscott took command of the U.S. Fifth Army 
in mid-December 1944. Eisenhower's policy of hold- 
ing his American corps commanders at the rank of 
major general (two stars) was not changed until the 



had lost its hard-charging corps com- 
mander, who had in many ways domi- 
nated the Allied campaign in southern 
France from the Riviera beaches to the 
Vosges Mountains. For over two 
months he had feverishly kept his three 
American infantry divisions on the 
move, forever harassing the retreating 
Germans and allowing them little time 
to rest and reorganize. His new offen- 
sive was yet another attempt to destroy 
the German defenses before they could 
solidify — an attempt that, like those 
before, was to be undertaken in the 
face of severe Allied logistical difficul- 
ties. However, the effort was also 
marked by much tactical and oper- 
ational imagination, such as the secret 
massing of the 3d Division in the corps' 
rear. Lucian Truscott would be missed 
in northern France. Nevertheless, the 
new phase of the Dogface attack 
would begin almost immediately under 
the direction of General Brooks. 14 



spring of 1945. In the Pacific, by contrast, most 
Army corps commanders were, like Truscott, lieu- 
tenant generals (three stars) throughout most of the 
war. 

"Brooks had left the 2d Armored Division in 
mid-September, served briefly on the V Corps staff, 
and arrived at the VI Corps headquarters on 20 Oc- 
tober where he worked closely with Truscott on 
Dogface planning. 



CHAPTER XVIII 



The Forests of the Meurthe 



The departure of General Truscott 
in the VI Corps was also marked by 
another high-level command change 
affecting the 6th Army Group. On 22 
October General Devers, command- 
ing the army group, turned over his 
concurrent command of NATOUSA 
to Lt. Gen. Joseph T. McNarney, for- 
merly Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. 
Army. This rather belated shift re- 
lieved Devers of what had become 
nagging U.S. Army administrative re- 
sponsibilities in the Mediterranean 
area and allowed him to devote all his 
time and energy to the affairs of 6th 
Army Group. Devers, however, unlike 
Bradley, continued to operate with 
only a small operational staff, moni- 
toring problem areas between his two 
subordinate armies and SHAEF head- 
quarters, but rarely interfering with 
tactical operations conducted at corps 
level, or with the logistical and ad- 
ministrative responsibilities shoul- 
dered by the larger army-level head- 
quarters. In any case, with the XV 
Corps' battle of the Parroy forest and 
the French II Corps' attack in the 
southern Vosges ended, there was 
little Devers could do while he waited 
for fresh supplies and fresh units for 
a major army group offensive sched- 
uled for mid-November. 



Dogface Resumed 

As VI Corps commander, General 
Brooks, a quiet New Englander with 
experience as an artillery officer 
during World War I, was to prove 
more reserved and less colorful than 
his predecessor, but equally able and 
innovative. Assigned to Fort Knox, 
Kentucky, in September 1941, he had 
taken over the 11th Armored Division 
in July of the following year; in 1944 
he had commanded the U.S. 2d Ar- 
mored Division in Bradley's army 
group during the campaigns in north- 
ern France. Although eager to do well 
in his first corps command assign- 
ment, Brooks would find the VI 
Corps infantrymen much different 
than his former armored troops and 
the Vosges terrain more challenging 
than the gentler ground to the north. 
In fact almost immediately he would 
inherit all the frustrations that had 
plagued Truscott since crossing the 
Moselle and gain a few new ones in 
the bargain. 

With Devers' approval, both Patch 
and his new corps commander were 
eager to have their new drive on St. 
Die and the Meurthe River under way 
as soon as possible. Thus on the 
morning of 23 October, the 45th Di- 



324 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



vision's two attacking regiments 
began crossing the Mortagne River. 
Despite opposition, units of the 180th 
Infantry were across the river by 0745 
and by noon had penetrated over half 
a mile northeast into the Ramber- 
villers forest, followed quickly by ele- 
ments of the 179th Infantry. The 
crossing had cost the 180th's lead 
battalion nearly one hundred casual- 
ties, almost all of them suffered 
during the initial attempt, and the 
unit captured about one hundred 
Germans on the east bank. 

Once across the river, progress was 
rapid. Patrols from the 45th Division 
soon met elements of the 3d Division; 
by the following day, 24 October, 
both of Eagles' regiments began 
swinging northward, making gains of 
up to a mile through the dense Ram- 
bervillers forest. Light resistance was 
less of an impediment than were the 
difficulties of opening supply routes 
on the dirt roads and trails to support 
further advances. The 45th Division's 
157th Infantry joined the attack early 
on the 25th from the Rambervillers 
region, crossing the Mortagne near 
Autry and pushing east and northeast. 
Meanwhile, south of Autry, the 120th 
Engineer Battalion, 45th Division, in- 
stalled a forty-ton bridge across the 
Mortagne to support the advance. 

During the afternoon of 25 October 
German resistance stiffened all across 
the front of the 45th Division, and 
throughout the night German artillery 
and mortar fire constantly harassed 
the attacking units. Although forward 
troops braced for a possible counter- 
attack, the morning of the 26th re- 
vealed that the night bombardment 
had only been a cover for a general 
German withdrawal. Thereafter the 



advance resumed. Elements of the 
157th Infantry reached Route D-32 
about midway across the forest during 
the course of the day; farther south, 
the 179th Infantry continued north- 
eastward for a mile and a half, while 
the 180th Infantry, pinched out by 
the other two regiments, reverted to 
division reserve. By the end of 26 Oc- 
tober the 45th Division had thus pen- 
etrated the boundary between the 
21st Panzer and the 16th Volksgrenadier 
Divisions and, in conjunction with 3d 
and 36th Division operations to the 
south, had completed the isolation of 
most of the 16th Division in the center 
of the American attack. 

South of the 45th, the 3d Division 
had resumed its advance toward Les 
Rouges Eaux along the axis of Route 
N-420 on 23 October, with the 15th 
Infantry north of the road and the 7th 
Infantry to the south. The 7th Infantry 
ran into stubborn resistance in the Les 
Rouges Eaux sector, but made some 
progress south of the highway and fi- 
nally cleared the hamlet on the 25th. 

Just short of Les Rouges Eaux on 
the 23d, the 15th Infantry moved off 
the highway and began to advance 
generally northward into the rough 
forested terrain just west of twisting 
Route D-7 on 24 October. Progress 
was fairly steady until the vanguard 
ran up against a German strongpoint 
on the 25th, centering around a small 
road junction two miles within the 
forest; here the forward movement of 
the regiment halted. 

Meanwhile, the 30th Infantry 
(moving over from the Le Tholy area) 
had rejoined the rest of the 3d Divi- 
sion and, on the 25th, dispatched its 
3d Battalion northward behind the 
15th Infantry. About a mile south of 



THE FORESTS OF THE MEURTHE 



325 



the strongpoint that was holding up 
the 15th regiment, the battalion cut 
east across Route D-7 and headed 
northeast along woodland trails for a 
mile and a half, encountering almost 
no resistance. By the time the morn- 
ing was well along, the other battal- 
ions of the 30th Infantry had fol- 
lowed, moving undetected through a 
large gap in the 16th Division's right 
flank. Taking advantage of the situa- 
tion, the 30th Infantry pushed one 
battalion north to Route D-32 while 
the other units moved rapidly east, 
heading directly for the Magdeleine 
woods. 1 

While the 30th Infantry's success 
accelerated the 3d Division's push 
through the Rambervillers forest, the 
progress of the division's 7th regi- 
ment along Route N-420 — presum- 
ably the easier axis of advance — was 
stopped a few miles north of Les 
Rouges Eaux by what turned out to 
be the strongest opposition yet en- 
countered. 2 The 7th Infantry had 
come up against the 933d Grenadiers of 
the 338th Division, representing the 
first major response of the German 
Army command to the VI Corps' of- 
fensive. 



1 S. Sgt. Clyde L. Choate, Company C, 601st Tank 
Destroyer Battalion, was awarded the Congressional 
Medal of Honor for action on 25 October for break- 
ing up a German tank-infantry counterattack in the 
Rambervillers forest. (The date is uncertain as unit 
records seem to indicate that the incident occurred 
several days earlier.) For more information on this 
incident, see History of the Third Infantry Division in 
World War 11, pp. 253-54, and 601st TD Battalion, 
"Record of Events, Oct 1-31, 1944," attached to the 
601st Battalion's After Action Report for October 
1944. 

2 German records state that Les Rouges Eaux was 
lost on 24 October, but 3d Division records show 
that intense fighting took place at the village on the 
morning of 25 October, and that Les Rouges Eaux 
was not completely secure until late that afternoon. 



The German Response 

The rapid thrust of the VI Corps 
threatened to split von Gilsa's 
LXXXIX Corps in the north from 
Thumm's LXIV Corps in the south. 
Balck and Wiese tried desperately to 
remedy the situation. During the 
night of 23-24 October, the Nineteenth 
Army thus began shifting the rein- 
forced 933d Grenadier Regiment 3 north 
from the IV Luftwaffe Field Corps sector 
in order to close the gap between the 
16th Volksgrenadier Division (LXXXIX 
Corps) and the 716th Division (LXIV 
Corps) that had been opened by the 
36th Division on the 22d. When the 
advance of 36th Division units south- 
east of N-420 continued to widen the 
gap on the 24th, Wiese immediately 
decided to commit the 602d Reconnais- 
sance Battalion and the 201st and 202d 
Mountain Battalions — the latter unit 
having detrained at St. Die during the 
night of 23-24 October. By the 25th 
at least some of these units had 
crossed the Meurthe River west of St. 
Die to assist the disorganized 16th 
Volksgrenadier Division in holding on to 
Route N-420 and closing the gap 
south of the highway in the Doman- 
iale de Champ forest. Also reinforcing 
the 16th Division on 24 or 25 October 
were the two provisional infantry bat- 
talions made up of probationers and 
men with ear problems, but these 
units may have simply been integrat- 
ed into existing divisional formations. 

Although the initial German rede- 
ployments substantially reinforced the 



3 The principal reinforcements for the 933d Grena- 
diers were the 39th Machine Gun Battalion from the 
Weslstellung and the understrength I98th Fusilier Bat- 
talion from the 198th Division of LXIV Corps. 



326 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



center and left of the collapsing volks- 
grenadier division, they had done noth- 
ing to strengthen its right wing or the 
equally tenuous situation of the 2 1st 
Panzer Division next door in the Ram- 
bervillers-Raon-l'Etape area. The only 
other backup force readily available 
was the 1 06th Panzer Brigade, which the 
Nineteenth Army had already moved to 
the northeastern edge of the Ramber- 
villers forest. But General Wiese was 
reluctant to commit the brigade to the 
direct support of either the 21st Panzer 
or the 16th Volhsgrenadier Division, pre- 
ferring to hold the bulk of the unit in 
reserve against an expected American 
advance into the Meurthe River valley 
itself via Routes D-7 and D-32. Like 
the American commanders, Wiese too 
found it difficult to employ more than a 
few armored vehicles effectively in the 
wooded terrain of the Vosges at one 
time. 

His decision proved to be sound as 
the battered 16th Division appeared to 
have little staying power. During 26 
and 27 October, the 3d Division's 
15th Infantry reduced the German 
strongpoint at the D-7 crossroads, 
cleared the road to La Bourgonce, 
and went on to occupy most of the 
town with no opposition. 4 To the 
north, the 179th Infantry of the 45th 
Division had also reached D-32, and 
just to the south the 30th Infantry 
had continued eastward through the 
La Bourgonce area all the way to the 
Magdeleine woods to secure the high 
ground overlooking St. Die. These 
last gains enabled American forward 
artillery observers to place the 201st 



4 Differing from the usual reporting pattern for 
this period, the German records state that La Bour- 
gonce fell on the 28th rather than the 27th. 



Mountain Battalion under accurate ar- 
tillery fire as it was detraining at the 
town, and the Germans were there- 
fore unable to commit the 201st along 
N-420 until the following day. 5 

In the sector of the 21st Panzer Divi- 
sion, the German defenders had done 
little better. On 27 October the 45th 
Division's 157th and 179th Infantry 
regiments pushed northeast and east 
another mile and a half, with the 
157th maintaining control over Route 
D-32 and the 179th drawing abreast 
of the 15th Infantry as it advanced 
into La Bourgonce. The next day, 28 
October, the 180th Infantry came 
back into the line along Route N- 
59A, on the division's left wing, and 
all three regiments began crossing 
Route D-32 in force toward Raon- 
l'Etape. 6 Although the division en- 
countered disorganized but deter- 
mined resistance throughout the 27th 
and 28th, supply and support prob- 
lems played the major role in slowing 
progress. Tracked vehicles repeatedly 
became mired in the muddy forest 
trails, while engineers had to work 
around the clock to keep unpaved 
roads and mountain trails passable 
for even lightweight jeeps. Bringing 
supplies and ammunition to forward 
units remained a major chore. 

For the Germans, the 45th Divi- 
sion's advances on 27 and 28 October 
posed new and serious threats. Out- 
flanked in the Rambervillers forest 



5 About the same time the 1st Battalion, 130th 
Panzer Regiment, began withdrawing from its reserve 
positions at Corcieux, probably moving to the St. 
Die area along D-31 — the Taintrux valley road — but 
German records are unclear on this point. 

6 With the arrival of the 180th Infantry on the di- 
vision's left, most of the 36th Engineer Combat 
Regiment units that had been securing the division 
flank returned to their engineer duties. 



THE FORESTS OF THE MEURTHE 



327 



area, the 21st Panzer Division was 
forced to relinquish its positions 
around the town of Rambervillers, 
which had guarded the road ap- 
proaches to both Raon-l'Etape and 
Baccarat. Wiese had hoped that the 
anemic panzer division might have 
been able somehow to tie its 
stretched defenses into those of the 
withdrawing 16th Volksgrenadier Divi- 
sion near La Bourgonce, but both 
units were too weak and thinly spread 
to make a linear defense possible. 
Preoccupied with efforts to defend 
along Route N-420 and to close the 
gap south of the highway between the 
LXXXIX and LXIV Corps, Wiese and 
von Gilsa had apparently been slow to 
appreciate the extent and significance 
of a second gap that was developing 
between the 21st Panzer and 16th 
Volksgrenadier Divisions. 

On 28 October Wiese belatedly de- 
cided to pull LXIV Corps' 716th Divi- 
sion out of its now relatively quiet 
sector southwest of Bruyeres and 
move the division northward to posi- 
tions between his ailing panzer and 
volksgrenadier units. 7 He also instructed 
these embattled units to pull back 
toward the Meurthe River, hoping 
that the 16th Volksgrenadiers in the 
center of the Allied attack could hold 
a much smaller defensive front be- 
tween the area just east of La Bour- 
gonce and Le Haut Jacques Pass, on 
Route N-420 between Les Rouges 
Eaux and St. Die. From Le Haut 
Jacques Pass the 16th Volksgrenadier Di- 
vision's main defenses were to contin- 
ue south through the central portion 



'The reinforced 308th Grenadiers of the 198th Divi- 
sion, IV Luftwaffe Field Corps, replaced the 716th Divi- 
sion in LXIV Corps ' sector. 



of the Domaniale de Champ forest to 
the Neune valley in the vicinity of Bif- 
fontaine; south of the town, the divi- 
sion would tie in with LXIV Corps 
units. Now expecting an early VI 
Corps breakout to the east from the 
Rambervillers forest, Wiese also di- 
rected the 21st Panzer Division and the 
106th Panzer Brigade to pull their re- 
maining armor back into reserve posi- 
tions, thereby denying the defending 
forces any armored support for the 
immediate future. Given the nature of 
the fighting and the terrain, however, 
it was probably a wise decision. 

The Nineteenth Army commander's 
actions came somewhat late to be of 
much help to the volksgrenadier divi- 
sion. With the 30th Infantry's pene- 
tration of the Bois de la Magdeleine, 
the division's chances of establishing 
defenses very far north of N-420 
were extremely poor, and Wiese's 
orders indicated that both the Nine- 
teenth Army and LXXXIX Corps lacked 
accurate information about the situa- 
tion along the 16th Division's front. 
Indeed, on 28 October Maj. Gen. 
Ernst Haeckel, commanding the volks- 
grenadier division, was in a state of 
confusion. As a result of nearly insol- 
uble communications problems, he 
had little control of his tactical units, 
and many had started to fall apart. 
After one of his grenadier companies 
deserted to American lines on 27 Oc- 
tober, General Balck came close to re- 
lieving Haeckel, but Wiese kept him 
on the job, mainly handling the 
German defenses along Route N-420. 
Although well aware that there were 
dangerous penetrations on both 
flanks of his unit, the harried division 
commander could do little about 
them. 



328 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



The Attack Stalls 

Unknown to Wiese, the 45th Divi- 
sion was not planning to conduct any 
major breakout eastward from the 
Rambervillers forest. On the divi- 
sion's left, the 117th Cavalry Squad- 
ron had pushed a few miles northeast 
of Rambervillers with no opposition, 
but its flank security responsibilities 
prevented it from advancing more 
rapidly. In the forest itself, the move- 
ment of the 45th Division's three in- 
fantry regiments toward the Meurthe 
River was steady, but also carefully 
measured. The 180th Infantry crossed 
Route D-32 near the western edge of 
the forest and, on the 30th, after 
overcoming stubborn resistance, 
reached Route N-59A. In the center 
the 157th Infantry pushed several 
miles north of D-32; meanwhile, on 
the division's right, the 179th Infantry 
consolidated positions on high 
ground overlooking La Bourgonce, 
staying abreast of the 3d Division's 
15th Infantry to the south, whose 
pace was much slower. 

In the VI Corps' center the 3d Divi- 
sion was finding the way to St. Die 
more difficult. The 15th Infantry had 
spent its time since 27 October mop- 
ping up along Route D-7 in the La 
Bourgonce area, and on the 30th it 
began relieving 30th Infantry troops 
on the front lines a few miles east of 
La Bourgonce. While the relief was in 
progress, a German force — probably 
troops of the recently redeployed 
716th Division — attacked and drove 
the intermixed American units back 
southward about a mile; during the 
confusion, about twenty-five troops of 
the 15th and 30th Infantry regiments 
and a forward observer party from 



the 141st Field Artillery Battalion 
were killed or captured. The attack, 
however, soon petered out, and, with 
its rear secured by the 15th Infantry, 
the 30th pressed east to assist the 7th 
regiment and the rest of the 3d Divi- 
sion in opening Route N-420. 

Despite almost continuous infiltra- 
tion and numerous small, intense 
counterattacks that probably marked 
the arrival of elements of the 201st 
Mountain Battalion along the regimental 
front, the 30th Infantry was able to 
consolidate its positions in the Magde- 
leine woods area and, on 28 October, 
began to push elements east toward 
Hill 616, which dominated the highway 
just north of Le Haut Jacques Pass 
where the 7th Infantry was still stalled. 8 
If the hill could be captured, the entire 
German defensive position in the pass 
would be gravely threatened, as would 
its line of communications to St. Die. 
The Germans also recognized the tacti- 
cal importance of Hill 616 and 
strengthened the area as best they 
could; at dusk on 30 October they were 
still holding back the 30th Infantry's at- 
tacking force half a mile north of the 
hill's summit. 9 

Meanwhile, the 7th Infantry still 
had its hands full along Route N-420. 
Despite several days of hard fighting, 
the unit had been unable to clear the 



8 On 28 October the Germans cut the supply lines 
to the 3d Battalion, 30th Infantry, and set up a 
strongpoint behind the battalion's forward units. 
For destroying the position almost single-handedly, 
S. Sgt. Lucian Adams, Company I, was awarded the 
Congressional Medal of Honor. 

'During German counterattacks at Hill 616 on 30 
October, PFC Wilburn K. Ross, a light machine 
gunner of Company G, 30th Infantry, successfully 
threw back a series of German probes, remaining in 
an exposed position for nearly five hours, for which 
he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. 



THE FORESTS OF THE MEURTHE 



329 



three miles of road between Les 
Rouges Eaux and the entrance to Le 
Haut Jacques Pass, and had been 
equally unsuccessful in attempting to 
bypass German strongpoints by skirt- 
ing through the edges of the Doman- 
iale de Champ forest just south of the 
highway. Assistance from the 36th Di- 
vision was needed, but Dahlquist's 
units, stretched thin over a long front, 
had their own problems. 

The Lost Battalion 

While the 45th and 3d Divisions 
pushed northwest toward the Raon- 
l'Etape-St. Die area, Dahlquist's 36th 
Division had moved east into the for- 
bidding Domaniale de Champ forest 
south of the main attack. On 23 Octo- 
ber the 442d Infantry, on the 36th Di- 
vision's left, penetrated several miles 
toward the center of the forest, with 
one battalion clearing Biffontaine in 
the south. The following day the 
442d was relieved by the 141st and 
143d Infantry regiments, which con- 
tinued the drive east. However, the 
hapless 141st was soon in trouble 
again. When the regiment's 1st Bat- 
talion occupied Hills 624 and 645 
northeast and southeast of Biffontaine 
on the 24th, the Germans reacted at 
once. Near Hill 624, an artillery-sup- 
ported German counterattack cut the 
supply lines to elements of the 1st 
Battalion, and a relief column of the 
2d Battalion was unable to reach the 
isolated units, having become em- 
broiled in several small skirmishes 
itself. The defenders were fresh units 
of the 338th Division's 933d Grenadiers, 
which Wiese hoped would stem the 
36th Division's penetration of the 
German intercorps boundary. 



During the night of 24-25 October 
the German grenadiers overran the 
command post of the 1st Battalion, 
141st Infantry, and completely 
blocked the main trail to the battal- 
ion's forward elements at Hill 645. 
An accounting on the morning of the 
25th revealed that the Germans had 
cut off 241 Americans near the hill; 
their only contact with the rest of the 
regiment was the radio of an artillery 
forward observer. 10 As yet, the Ger- 
mans were only vaguely aware of the 
isolated American pocket, since the 
situation within the densely forested 
hills and ridges of the Domaniale de 
Champ was as murky for the 933d 
Grenadier Regiment as it was for the 
141st Infantry. 

On 25 October the 2d Battalion, 
141st Infantry, gained some ground 
in the Hill 624 area, but fell far short 
of reaching the group near Hill 645. 
The 141st Infantry's 3d Battalion, 
moving into the battle area from the 
north, also met determined resistance 
and made little headway. During the 
afternoon the isolated group sent out 
a 36-man combat patrol to scout for a 
possible breakout route, but the de- 
tachment was subsequently am- 
bushed. Only five men made it back 
to the Hill 645 perimeter and only a 
single soldier, after being lost five 
days in the woods, was finally able to 
reach American lines. 



10 The group consisted of 237 troops of the 1st 
Battalion, 141st Infantry, and four men from other 
units, including an artillery forward observer from 
the 131st Field Artillery Battalion, 36th Division. 
For detailed accounts of subsequent operations to 
relieve the group, see the 141st Infantry's AAR, Oct 
44, pp. 26-46; Shirey, Americans, pp. 63-68; Seventh 
Army Diary, pp. 339-44; and, for color, the account 
in The Fighting 36th (Austin, Tex.: The 36th Division 
Association, 1946) (unpaginated). 



330 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 




The situation remained unchanged 
throughout 26 October, but the 
trapped men were running desperately 
short of ammunition, medical supplies, 
and food. The 2d Battalion, 442d In- 
fantry, after a two-day rest, came back 
into the line to allow the 141st to focus 
all its activities on the relief effort, but 
the regiment, worn thin by the long 
weeks of campaigning in the Vosges, 
was unable to clear a path to the isolat- 
ed soldiers. The Hill 645 group — by 
now inaccurately dubbed The Lost 
Battalion — remained cut off. 11 



11 At the time, the American media drew an obvi- 
ous parallel to "The Lost Battalion" of World War 



The next day, 27 October, an exas- 
perated Dahlquist decided to bring 
the rest of the 442d Infantry back 
into the line on the 141st Infantry's 
left. However, the Japanese-American 
regiment was immediately subjected 
to armor-supported counterattacks 
launched by the 202d Mountain Battal- 
ion, which had moved into the Les 
Rouges Eaux valley south of N-420. 



I, when some 600 troops of the 308th Infantry, 77th 
Division, were cut off in the Argonne Forest during 
the period 3-7 October 1918. In fact there were 
many such "lost battalions" during World War II — a 
common occurrence when attacking units sometimes 
outdistanced their companions and became isolated 
by enemy units infiltrating along their flanks and 
rear. 



THE FORESTS OF THE MEURTHE 



331 



To the east, the 141st Infantry's 
progress was again negligible, and the 
3d Battalion even had to give up 
some ground in the face of German 
pressure. 12 Increasingly frustrated 
with the performance of the 141st In- 
fantry, General Dahlquist relieved the 
regimental commander and replaced 
him with Col. Charles H. Owens, the 
division's chief of staff. 13 These meas- 
ures brought no immediate relief, 
however, to the trapped unit. 

On 28 October the two recommit- 
ted battalions of the 442d Infantry 
moved northeast into the sector of 
the 7th Infantry, 3d Division, in an at- 
tempt to approach the southeastern 
portion of the Domaniale de Champ 
forest from a different angle. But 
again progress was painfully slow, and 
at dusk the 442d's leading troops 
were still over two miles northwest of 
the "lost battalion." During the day, 
however, the Japanese-American unit 
captured some ninety Germans, 
among them the commanding officer 
of the 202d Mountain Battalion. Mean- 
while, aided by clearing weather, artil- 
lery and aircraft managed to deliver 
some supplies to the stranded group. 
While howitzers fired in canisters 
filled with chocolate bars, P-47 fight- 
ers of the 371st Fighter-Bomber 
Group dropped packets of ammuni- 
tion, K-rations, medical supplies, 
radio batteries, and water. 14 On the 
same day, the 36th Division's OSS de- 



12 For heroic leadership between 24 and 27 Octo- 
ber, T. Sgt. Charles H. Coolidge, Company M, 3d 
Battalion, 141st Infantry, was awarded the Congres- 
sional Medal of Honor. 

13 Col. Carl E. Lindquist had taken command of 
the 141st on 7 October, and Owens had been chief 
of staff since 12 October. 

"See Seventh Army Rpl, I, 550-51. 



tachment even sent a three-man team 
into the forest in an unsuccessful at- 
tempt to aid the unit. 15 All this atten- 
tion undoubtedly pinpointed the loca- 
tion of the small force for the 933d 
Grenadiers, but the Germans had 
become increasingly disorganized and 
were unable to mount a concerted 
attack to eliminate the American 
pocket. 

During 29 and 30 October, at a 
high cost, the 442d Infantry labori- 
ously fought its way down the south- 
eastern arm of the forest. Finally, 
about 1400 on the 30th, a Nisei 
patrol reached the Hill 645 group, 
marking the end of the struggle. By 
1600 the bulk of the two 442d battal- 
ions had closed around the 141st In- 
fantry's isolated force and began 
evacuating the group's casualties — 
twenty-six wounded, including 
twenty-two litter cases. The next day 
the remainder of the group rejoined 
the rest of the battered 1st Battalion, 
and Owens quickly pulled the unit 
out of the line. At the time, the bat- 
talion had only 490 men left out of an 
authorized strength of about 870. 

At the end of October, the rest of 
the 141st Infantry was not in much 
better condition. During the month 
the regiment had received nearly 650 
fresh enlisted replacements, and an- 
other 600 enlisted men had returned 
to duty after being out of the line as 
casualties. However, both battle and 
nonbattle casualties had risen to the 
extent that the regiment was still 
short about 450 enlisted men, and the 
36th Division as a whole was approxi- 



™The Overseas Targets: War Report of the OSS, II, 
248. The trio was ambushed, a French agent killed, 
and two Americans wounded and captured. 



332 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 




Men From the Lost Battalion (1st Battalion, 141st Infantry, 36th Division). 



mately 4,400 troops below its 
strength of 1 October. Coming out of 
the battle, the attached 442d Infantry, 
after only a relatively short period of 
fighting, was emaciated and down to 
little more than 50 percent of its au- 
thorized strength with no replace- 
ments in sight. 

The whole affair of the lost battalion 
was extremely upsetting to both Dahl- 
quist and Brooks. For five days the 
relief of the Hill 645 group had con- 
sumed the energies of the bulk of two 
infantry regiments plus a large propor- 
tion of the 36th Division's supporting 
artillery, armor, and engineers. The di- 
version had prevented the 36th Divi- 
sion from continuing its advances else- 
where or even starting to approach its 
final Dogface objective, St. Leonard. 



In addition, fully occupied in the 
southeastern section of the Domaniale 
de Champ, the 36th was unable to pro- 
vide any assistance to the 3d Division's 
attack up Route D-420. In fact, Brooks 
had to shift the 3d Division's boundary 
about two miles southward to cover the 
left flank of the troubled unit. The best 
that can be said of the episode was that 
the reinforcements sent by Wiese had 
also been badly damaged, as the Nine- 
teenth Army once again ran up against 
the American hard-luck division. 

The VI Corps' attack, which had 
seemed so promising at first, ap- 
peared to be stalled in the,, Vosges 
forests at the end of October. Troop 
fatigue, poor weather, difficult ter- 
rain, ammunition shortages, and fresh 
German reinforcements all conspired 



THE FORESTS OF THE MEURTHE 



333 



against any rapid advance to the 
Meurthe River. With the approach of 
winter, time seemed to be working 
against the American attackers, and 
the first major snowfalls in the moun- 
tains would make offensive operations 
even more difficult. But the Germans 
also had severe problems. The broad, 
grinding American advance was chew- 
ing up their infantry units bit by bit, 
never allowing them to build up their 
reserve for anything more than local- 



ized counterattacks. If the battle con- 
tinued further, Wiese would have no 
troops to man and defend the Vosges 
Foothill Positions or any other winter 
defensive line. The fighting in the 
Rambervillers and Domaniale de 
Champ forests, and along Route N- 
420 thus seemed to be coming down 
to a matter of will and stamina — a war 
of attrition that, without assistance 
from the outside, only the more de- 
termined opponent would win. 



CHAPTER XIX 

The Gates of the Vosges 



Initial Dogface planning had pro- 
vided for limited diversionary attacks 
by the two Allied corps on either side 
of Brooks' VI Corps, namely, XV 
Corps in the north and de Monsa- 
bert's II Corps in the south. The lack 
of supplies and the general exhaus- 
tion of both units had prevented 
these supporting attacks from taking 
place. However, by late October both 
Devers and Patch believed that the 
time for launching the two secondary 
efforts had arrived. The gains made 
by the VI Corps had begun to expose 
its flanks, as the episode of the lost 
battalion had so clearly pointed out; 
at the same time, the concentration of 
the Nineteenth Army's reserves on the 
VI Corps' front had correspondingly 
weakened the defenses facing the U.S. 
XV and the French II Corps. More- 
over, both of the flanking Allied corps 
were somewhat rested and had been 
able to improve their manpower and 
supply situation during the past 
weeks. Attacks by either or both of 
the corps might take some pressure 
off Brooks' forces in the center, al- 
lowing them to reach their Meurthe 
River line objectives before Dogface 
ran out of steam. In addition, Devers 
believed that a general advance by all 
three corps would place them in a 



better geographical position for the 
start of the larger 6th Army Group 
offensive still scheduled for mid- 
November. 

Planning 

In the north the objective of the 
XV Corps' supporting attack was the 
small city of Baccarat, a railroad and 
highway hub six miles northwest of 
Raon-l'Etape. The rapid seizure of 
the Meurthe River town before the 
Germans could move reinforcements 
northward would accomplish two ob- 
jectives. First, Baccarat would give the 
XV Corps an alternate route of ad- 
vance through the approaches to the 
Saverne Gap. Second, possession of 
the town would also give the VI 
Corps a bridgehead over the 
Meurthe. From Baccarat, Brooks 
could outflank the German Meurthe 
River line (the Vosges Foothill Position) 
and send forces south through Raon- 
l'Etape and the surrounding hill 
masses, known to the local inhabit- 
ants as " the gates of the Vosges" 
(Mai) 24).\ 

To accomplish this task, General 
Haislip, the XV Corps commander, 
ordered Leclerc's 2d Armored Divi- 
sion to isolate the area by cutting the 




Corps Axis of Attack 
I — I I I l German Foothill Position 
' German Ridge Posilion 

German Order of Battle, 13 November 
ELE VATIO NS IN METERS 

r — 1~ 

200 600 1000 AND ABOVE 



20 



MILES 



MAP 2-f 



336 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



main roads north and east of Bac- 
carat, including the southeastern sec- 
tion of N-59 leading to Raon-l'Etape, 
and then to occupy the town itself. 1 
Leclerc's command was to begin its 
offensive, planned as a short, two-day 
affair, on 31 October. 

On VI Corps' southern flank, a 
French II Corps demonstration by the 
3d Algerian Division was to start on 3 
November and last for three days. 
General de Monsabert, commanding 
the II Corps, welcomed the opportu- 
nity to take some offensive action 
after having been relegated to a de- 
fensive role in mid-October. Brig. 
Gen. Augustin Guillaume, command- 
ing the 3d Algerian Infantry Division, 
was also pleased. German artillery 
had been harassing his main supply 
routes in the Vagney-Sapois area, and 
a few limited objective attacks would, 
he felt, push German artillery observ- 
ers out of the nearby hills and end 
the nuisance. A limited push north 
would also put his units on better ter- 
rain for further advances. 

However, General de Lattre, com- 
manding the First French Army, had 
serious misgivings. 2 Any supplies and 



■While the orders of the Seventh Army and XV 
Corps did not specify the seizure of Baccarat, the 2d 
French Armored Division could hardly have accom- 
plished its missions — especially cutting Route N- 
59 — without taking the city; Leclerc obviously in- 
tended to make Baccarat his primary objective. 

2 De Lattre, History, p. 206, states that during a 
conference with General Devers on 27 October he 
"at once" promised French cooperation for the lim- 
ited objective attack, but neither the First French 
Army account of the conference (copy in First 
French Army files and dated 30 October) nor the 
Devers diary of 27 October agree with this interpre- 
tation. De Lattre also appears to have been less than 
enthusiastic at a conference with de Monsabert and 
Brooks on 31 October at the French II Corps com- 
mand post. See Seventh Army Diary, 31 October; 
and Memo, Col Joseph F. Surrat (G-3 Section, Sev- 



troops consumed by the effort would 
obviously detract from his buildup 
opposite Belfort. Moreover, de Lattre 
doubted that much could be accom- 
plished. The division and attached 
FFI units held a twelve-mile front in 
rough, forested, rain-sodden or snow- 
laden terrain; de Monsabert would 
have difficulty concentrating sufficient 
resources of his own to launch a 
meaningful diversion. Contributing to 
de Lattre's uneasiness was the knowl- 
edge that the relatively fresh and 
strong (14,000 troops) 269th Volks- 
grenadier Division from Norway had 
begun to take over from the depleted 
338th Division in the area south of 
Gerardmer. 3 But the French Army 
commander hoped that a limited 
attack by his II Corps would at least 
keep the Nineteenth Army's attention 
focused on the Vosges front and away 
from the Belfort Gap sector. In the 
end, at the urgings of Patch and 
Devers, he reluctantly drew upon his 
general reserve and provided Guil- 
laume's division with a combat com- 
mand of the French 5th Armored Di- 
vision, the Shock Battalion, much of 
the artillery of the 1st and 5th Ar- 
mored Divisions, a tank destroyer bat- 
talion, and an infantry battalion from 
the 4th Moroccan Mountain Division. 
From his own resources General de 
Monsabert added an infantry battal- 
ion from the French 1st Infantry 
Division still located south of the 
Algerians. 



enth Army) to Chief of Staff, Seventh Army (no 
subj, but an account of the 31 October conference), 
1 Nov 44. 

3 The first, elements of the 269th Volksgrenadier Di- 
vision reached the front opposite the French II 
Corps on 26 October. 



THE GATES OF THE VOSGES 



337 




General Patch and Maj. Gen. 
Edward H. Brooks 



The Attack in the North 

Unconcerned with French problems 
in the south, Leclerc's 2d Armored 
Division launched the XV Corps' set- 
piece attack from assembly areas in 
the Mondon forest southeast of Lune- 
ville at daybreak on 31 September, 
supported by four battalions of corps 
artillery, 4 and by the artillery of the 
XV Corps' new 44th Division. The 
21st Panzer Division, responsible for 
the defense of Baccarat and environs, 
was caught by surprise. The Germans 
knew that the rolling, generally open 
terrain north and northwest of Bac- 



4 A battalion each of 155-mm. howitzers, 155-mm. 
guns, 4.5-inch guns, and 8-inch howitzers. 



carat was, in dry weather, suited to ar- 
mored warfare, but on 31 October 
most of the area was a morass of 
flooded streams, water-covered roads, 
and mud. However, Leclerc was con- 
vinced that by keeping to the upper 
slopes of the low hills and ridges 
leading to Baccarat he could maneu- 
ver his armor in a reasonably effective 
manner. 

Leclerc's optimism, especially in the 
face of weakened 21st Panzer Division 
defenses, proved well founded. More- 
over, the 2d Armored Division's staff 
had done its homework well. With 
bright cerise cloth panels and pen- 
nants boldly displayed for identifica- 
tion purposes, the French armored 
columns swept southeastward across a 
four-mile front. By early afternoon his 
left column had cut Route N-435 
about four miles northeast of Bac- 
carat and had then gone on to clear 
the town of Merviller, a few miles to 
the south. Meanwhile, his right-wing 
units had eliminated a long-trouble- 
some German strongpoint at Aizer- 
ailles, on the Meurthe River and 
Route N-59 about three miles north- 
west of Baccarat. Late in the day 
French armor drove into the eastern 
half of the isolated town against only 
scattered resistance. By 1000 the next 
day, 1 November, CCD of the 2d Ar- 
mored Division had cleared Baccarat 
and in the process seized an intact 
bridge over the Meurthe River. 

On the same day CCV, attacking 
from the northern edge of the 
Mondon forest, occupied Ogeviller — 
on Route N-4 about seven miles 
north of Baccarat — which had former- 
ly been a strongpoint on the bounda- 
ry between First and Nineteenth Armies. 
The French pressed on another mile 



338 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



and a half along N-4 to take Herbe- 
viller; they then moved southeast 
along the west bank of the small La 
Blette River and cleared Montigny, on 
La Blette and Route N-435 about six 
miles northeast of Baccarat. The 
heaviest fighting of the day took place 
at Vacqueville, on a railroad spur line 
a mile and a half east of N-435 at 
Merviller. Here 21st Panzer Division in- 
fantry, supported by five tanks, held 
out until 1730, withdrawing only after 
the French knocked out three of the 
German armored vehicles. Meanwhile, 
CCD opened Route N-59 between Ai- 
zerailles and Baccarat, probed south- 
west along N-435 toward Ramber- 
villers to establish contact with VI 
Corps' 117th Cavalry Squadron, and 
sent patrols out southeast of Baccarat 
along Route N-59. 

By dusk on 1 November, the French 
2d Armored Division had thus accom- 
plished its Dogface support mission. 
The division adopted a generally de- 
fensive posture and waited for VI 
Corps units to take over in the Bac- 
carat-Merviller sector. The two-day ex- 
ercise had cost the 2d Armored Divi- 
sion approximately 20 men killed and 
100 wounded, while equipment losses 
included 7 medium tanks, 2 light tanks, 
6 half-tracks, and 1 tank destroyer. The 
division captured about 550 German 
troops and estimated that it had killed 
over 200 more; known German materi- 
el losses included six medium tanks 
and fifteen 88-mm. guns. 5 In addition, 
General Spragins' 44th Infantry Divi- 
sion, taking advantage of confusion in 
the German defenses caused by the 



5 Most of the 88-mm. guns were on antiaircraft 
mounts and, once emplaced, could not be moved 
quickly. 



French armored division's attack, 
pushed two miles farther east into the 
sector north of the Vezouse River, se- 
curing rising ground and driving back 
elements of the 533d Volksgrenadier 
Division. 

German Reorganization 

Changes in Wiese's Nineteenth Army 
command structure had also contrib- 
uted to the German dislocation in the 
Baccarat area. On 28 October the 
LVIII Panzer Corps headquarters, con- 
trolling the southern divisions of Army 
Group G's First Army, received orders 
to redeploy northward to the zone of 
Army Group B. 6 To replace the depart- 
ing panzer corps headquarters, Army 
Group G directed the Nineteenth Army to 
transfer von Gilsa's LXXXIX Corps 
headquarters to the First Army. Unable 
to obtain a suitable replacement for 
von Gilsa's command, General Wiese 
had to shift the zone of Thumm's 
LXIV Corps northward to take over the 
LXXXIX Corps sector. The new LXIV 
Corps front was about twenty-three 
miles wide and extended from Do- 
mevre, on Route N-4 about three 
miles north of Montigny, to Saulcy- 
sur-Meurthe, three miles south of St. 
Die. Both Petersen's IV Luftwaffe Field 
Corps and Kniess' LXXXV Corps also 
had to extend their boundaries north- 
ward, leaving the IV Luftwaffe Field 
Corps with a front of over twenty-five 
miles from Saulcy south to Route N- 
66 at Le Thillot; here it tied its de- 



6 Von Manteuffel's Fifth Panzer Army headquarters 
and the XLVII Panzer Corps headquarters had already 
left for the north and, together with the LVIII Panzer 
Corps headquarters, would constitute the southern 
command and control organization of the German 
Ardennes Offensive in December 1944. 



THE GATES OF THE VOSGES 



339 



fenses into units of the LXXXV Corps, 
still holding in front of the Belfort 
Gap. 7 

These command and control 
changes had become effective be- 
tween 30 October and 1 November, a 
critical period for both attackers and 
defenders. On 31 October, with the 
attack of the French 2d Armored Divi- 
sion well along, it became obvious 
that the Nineteenth Army could neither 
counterattack nor hold; Wiese there- 
fore obtained permission from Balck 
to draw the army's right wing back to 
the general line of Montigny, Vacque- 
ville, and Bertrichamps, conceding 
the loss of Baccarat. Wiese hoped that 
hastily assembled, weak reserves 8 
could help the 21st Panzer Division 
hold a new line, but on 1 November 
Leclerc's armor overran the line 
before it could be established, except 
temporarily, at Vacqueville. The 21st 
Panzer Division's right now withdrew 
east of La Blette River; the center 
moved into rising, wooded ground 
east of Baccarat and Bertrichamps; 
and the left, under constant pressure 
from the VI Corps' 45th Division, 
held on to the mountains surrounding 
Raon-l'Etape, which, Wiese was still 
convinced, was the VI Corps' major 
objective. 

Uncharacteristically, Balck had ac- 
quiesced in the loss of important ter- 
rain without insisting that Nineteenth 
Army mount an immediate counterat- 



7 The LXXXV Corps boundary was also pulled 
north about five miles to Le Thillot. 

8 The reserves included three infantry "battal- 
ions" of little more than company strength, a weak 
machine-gun battalion, elements of the 106th Panzer 
Brigade, and some fortress artillery. Available 
records do not show whether any of these reinforce- 
ments actually reached the 21st Panzer Division's 
front by 1 November. 



tack to regain the lost ground. Then, 
on 1 November, when the 21st Panzer 
Division failed to hold along the Mon- 
tigny- Vacqueville-Bertrichamps line, 
Balck reluctantly approved the with- 
drawal of the Nineteenth Army's right 
and center into the forward Weststel- 
lung defenses, the Vosges Foothill Posi- 
tion. This withdrawal, later hastened 
by attacks of the French II Corps in 
the south, entailed a major redeploy- 
ment along the Nineteenth Army's 
entire Vosges front, from Domevre 
south almost 40 miles to La Bresse in 
the upper Moselotte River valley, 
which was to be finalized by 15 No- 
vember. By that date Balck hoped 
that construction of the defensive in- 
stallations of the Vosges Foothill Position 
would be completed. 

Either dissatisfied with tactical 
preparations or frustrated by the in- 
creasingly dismal situation facing him, 
Balck, the Army Group G commander, 
also announced a scorched-earth 
policy for the areas to be vacated by 
the Nineteenth Army. Balck's orders di- 
rected that, by 10 November, all able- 
bodied men between the ages of six- 
teen and sixty were to be evacuated 
to the east bank of the Rhine for use 
as forced labor. Women, children, 
and men infirm or over sixty were to 
be herded into relatively safe areas; 
and each village, town, and city was 
to be completely destroyed as the 
German troops left. Apparently not 
trusting his regular army officers to 
carry out the harsh measures, or per- 
haps not wanting to impose the 
burden on tactical units, Balck ar- 
ranged for the local SS 9 to undertake 



9 The Schutzstaffel (protective group) was a uni- 
formed but lightly armed element of the Nazi Party 



340 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



the necessary actions. The 55 lacked 
demolitions and expertise in their 
use, however, and relied mainly on 
fire for destructive purposes, leaving 
the scorched-earth program subject to 
the vagaries of wind and weather. 

The Attack in the South 

Balck's orders of 1 November had 
scarcely been distributed when de 
Monsabert's II Corps launched its 
Dogface supporting attack at 0800 
on 3 November, after an hour-long 
artillery preparation. 10 Again the Ger- 
mans were caught more or less by 
surprise. Terrain and weather condi- 
tions were unfavorable for the at- 
tacker, but the 269th Volksgrenadier Di- 
vision, still deploying across part of 
the IV Luftwaffe Field Corps front, had 
been unable to organize completely 
the defenses of its new sector. 

On the left, elements of the rein- 
forced 3d Algerian Division gained 
only about a mile after fighting for 
three days in the dense, upland for- 
ests around Le Tholy. In the center, 
astride the axis of Route D-23 east of 
Sapois, infantry units advanced over 
two miles along dominating terrain 
north and south of the highway, pen- 
etrating some Weststellung positions, 
while supporting armor pushed a mile 
farther down the road. To the south, 
other French troops advanced only 
about a mile eastward from positions 



organization that constituted an internal political 
police force. Another branch, the Waffen SS (armed 
SS), was organized into tactical units similar to those 
of the German Army. 

10 In addition to official French unit records, the 
following material on the II Corps action is based 
on de Lattre, History, p. 206; Le 2e C.A. dans la Ba- 
taille pour la Liberation de la France, pp. 57-59; and 
Moreau, La Victoire, pp. 199-206. 



held since mid-October, but they 
managed to occupy high ground over- 
looking La Bresse and the Moselotte 
valley, through which ran the key 
German north-south lines of commu- 
nication. 

The initial German reaction to the 
3d Algerian Division's attack was lim- 
ited to heavy artillery and mortar fire, 
but on the evening of 5 November 
the 269th Division began a series of 
counterattacks that lasted through the 
7th. The cessation of the counterat- 
tacks was probably fortunate for the 
French, because by the end of the day 
all the reinforcing units that de Lattre 
had made available to de Monsabert 
were on their way back to the Belfort 
Gap front. The 3d Algerian Division 
again went on the defensive, as did 
the Germans, who feared that the 
French were only pausing for a brief 
rest before renewing the attacks. 

The limited French gains in the 
south had not come cheaply. During 
the attack, the 3d Algerian Division 
and its attachments lost approximate- 
ly 150 men killed, 670 wounded, and 
35 missing. Nevertheless, the effects 
of de Monsabert's support operations 
were obvious. Concerned about the 
threat to the sector, Balck and Wiese 
were forced to keep substantial 
strength in the southern Vosges area, 
which, because of the rugged terrain, 
probably could have been held by a 
much smaller force. They were thus 
unable to deploy more units to either 
the Baccarat, St. Die, or Belfort sec- 
tors. But the true measure of both de 
Monsabert's and Leclerc's actions was 
the degree to which Brooks' VI Corps 
could take advantage of the resulting 
dismay caused in the German ranks to 
complete its push to the Meurthe. 



THE GATES OF THE VOSGES 



341 



VI Corps Resumes the Attack 

With the French support operations 
under way, Brooks pressed his VI 
Corps forces forward in an effort to 
gain all Dogface objectives in time to 
give his three tired divisions some 
rest before the army group offensive 
began in mid-November. On the far 
left, during the opening days of No- 
vember, the 117th Cavalry Squadron, 
with the aid of the 3d Battalion, 36th 
Engineers, completed the relief of 2d 
French Armored Division units in the 
Merviller-Baccarat-Bertrichamps area, 
and was soon joined by elements of 
the 45th Division's 179th Infantry. 
South of Baccarat, however, both 
Eagles and O'Daniel had a hard time 
penetrating the strengthened German 
defenses. 

Opposite Raon-l'Etape, the 45th 
Division's 180th and 157th regiments 
continued their advance to the 
Meurthe River through the Ramber- 
villers forest and along Route N-59A. 
By 2 November the 180th Infantry 
managed to reach the hamlet of St. 
Benoit, about halfway between Ram- 
bervillers and Raon-l'Etape, but was 
unable to advance much farther. A 
few miles northeast of St. Benoit, 
Route N-59A — now no more than a 
narrow mountain road separating the 
Ste. Barbe and Rambervillers for- 
ests — rose to a height of nearly 1,500 
feet, passing over a divide between 
the Meurthe and Mortagne water- 
sheds at the Chipote Pass. There, 
about four miles short of Raon- 
l'Etape, units of the 21st Panzer Divi- 
sion made a final stand. Unable to 
force the pass, some elements of the 
180th Infantry moved north into the 
Ste. Barbe forest, while the entire 



157th turned south, guiding on Route 
N-424, a secondary road to the 
Meurthe. In the north, small detach- 
ments of the 180th Infantry emerged 
from the forest on 3 November at the 
west bank of the Meurthe River 
almost two miles above the bridge to 
Raon-l'Etape. But their rapid excur- 
sion proved exceptional. In the center 
the rest of the 180th remained stalled 
at the pass, and in the south the 
157th Infantry progressed scarcely a 
mile eastward along Route N-424. 
With their initial energy spent, the 
45th Division foot soldiers again 
began to show the now familiar signs 
of extreme fatigue that had character- 
ized the entire Vosges campaign. 

On the other side, the German de- 
fenders were in worse condition. 
Unable to halt the 45th Division for 
long and with all his reserves commit- 
ted, General Wiese finally obtained 
permission from Army Group G to pull 
the left of the 21st Panzer Division and 
the right of the neighboring 716th Di- 
vision back almost to the Meurthe 
River valley. At the same time, Balck 
reluctantly and temporarily trans- 
ferred the 951st Grenadiers of the First 
Army's 361st Volksgrenadier Division to 
the Nineteenth Army as a final emergen- 
cy reserve. The Army Group G com- 
mander at first expected Wiese to use 
the 951st Grenadiers to free elements 
of the 21st Panzer Division for counter- 
attacks in the Baccarat-Raon-l'Etape 
area. However, lack of time and 
means, pressure from the Americans, 
and muddy ground made it impossi- 
ble for the panzer division to under- 
take any offensive measures. Never- 
theless, the 951st Grenadier Regiment, 
which reached Raon-l'Etape late on 4 
November, immediately made its 



342 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



presence felt, halting renewed attacks 
by the 180th Infantry- along Route N- 
59A on 4 and 5 November. But the 
relief was only momentary. South of 
N-59A, the 157th Infantry slowly con- 
tinued to labor through the Ramber- 
villers forests toward the Meurthe, 
while north of the mountain highway 
the 45th Division pushed additional 
forces across the Ste. Barbe wilder- 
ness. More important, since 2 Novem- 
ber, Eagles' tired division had slowly 
been reinforced by troops from the 
fresh U.S. 100th Infantry Division — 
the first of the three new divisions 
that Eisenhower had promised Devers 
back in September, and also the first 
new American division that had 
reached the Seventh Army since its 
campaign in France began. 

Operation Dogface Ends 

On 9 November Maj. Gen. Withers 
A. Burress, commanding the 100th 
Infantry Division, formally assumed 
control of the zone from General 
Eagles. To all intents and purposes, 
the 45th Division had ended its role 
in the Dogface offensive. Although 
short of its final objective line, the di- 
vision had nearly pushed the Ger- 
mans out of the Ste. Barbe and Ram- 
bervillers forests, placing the few 
German units still on the west bank of 
the Meurthe River in an extremely 
awkward defensive position. In addi- 
tion, with help from the French 2d 
Armored Division and the 117th Cav- 
alry Squadron, the division had 
moved forces onto the far side of the 
Meurthe, outflanking the German de- 
fensive positions of Raon-l'Etape 
proper. Subsequently, the 100th Divi- 
sion finished clearing the forested 




Maj. Gen. Withers A. Burress 



hills overlooking the western valley of 
the Meurthe north and south of 
Raon-l'Etape by 11 November; how- 
ever, the new unit was unable to 
eliminate a final German strongpoint 
directly opposite the town. 

In the VI Corps center, the 3d Divi- 
sion had also resumed its advance 
toward St. Die during the first week 
of November. On the division's left, 
the 15th Infantry moved northeast 
from La Bourgonce area and began a 
slow, methodical advance toward the 
Meurthe. Much of the ground was 
rolling and open, and the 716th Divi- 
sion offered only minor resistance at 
various small villages and hamlets, be- 
latedly launching only a single genu- 
ine counterattack, which proved inef- 
fective. By 9 November the regiment 



THE GATES OF THE VOSGES 



343 



reached positions along rising ground 
overlooking the Meufthe valley, suc- 
cessfully completing its Dogface as- 
signments. 

In the Magdeleine woods, the 30th 
Infantry advanced abreast of the 15th, 
clearing the woods and reaching the 
west bank of the Meurthe River only 
about a mile north of St. Die by 6 No- 
vember. On the regiment's right, the 
7th Infantry, battered and exhausted, 
finally broke through Le Haut Jacques 
Pass on 4 November, but only after 
having been forced to clear most of 
the wooded area just west of N-420. 
Hill 616, east of the pass, fell to the 
combined efforts of the 7th and 30th 
Infantry regiments on 5 November, 
after which the remaining elements of 
the 16th Volksgrenadier Division began 
falling back on St. Die. By the 
evening of 9 November the 7th Infan- 
try had also cleared the wooded area 
immediately south of St. Die, and had 
sent patrols a few miles down Route 
D-3 1 into the Taintrux valley. By that 
time, elements of the 30th Infantry 
had marched out of the southern 
edge of the Magdeleine woods to take 
responsibility for the road junction of 
N-420 and D-31, leaving the battered 
7th to protect the division's right 
flank. 

Relief for the tired 3d Division was 
on its way. Between 9 and 1 1 Novem- 
ber the 409th and 410th Infantry 
regiments of the fresh but untried 
103d Infantry Division, commanded 
by Maj. Gen. Charles C. Haffner, Jr., 
began replacing the 7th and 30th In- 
fantry. The 103d Division was the 
second of the three divisions that Ei- 
senhower had redirected from north- 
ern France to Marseille, where the 
103d had begun unloading on 20 Oc- 



tober. Haffner officially took over the 
3d Division's sector on 12 November, 
allowing O'Daniel's weary forces a 
brief respite. 

Although St. Die remained in 
German hands, the 3d Division, with 
the impetus of its early attack through 
the other VI Corps divisions, had 
reached the west bank of the Meurthe 
and, more important, had secured 
Route N-420 as a main supply route 
all the way from Brouvelieures almost 
to St. Die. But the cost had been 
high. From 20 October through 10 
November, battle casualties within the 
7th Infantry regiment alone totaled 
approximately 150 men killed and 
820 wounded, while the unit captured 
about 1,100 Germans. The 3d Divi- 
sion's 7th and 30th regiments quickly 
went into reserve, resting and begin- 
ning to prepare for the main Novem- 
ber offensive. However, since Brooks 
had designated the 103d Division's 
third regiment, the 411th Infantry, as 
the corps' reserve, the 15th Infantry 
remained in holding positions along 
the west side of the Meurthe valley 
north of St. Die. 

While the two fresh divisions had 
arrived just in time for Eagles' and 
O'Daniel's tired units, Dahlquist's 
workhorse 36th was to have no such 
respite. Although the Dogface terri- 
torial objectives of the 36th Division 
had been less significant than those of 
other VI Corps forces — the actual task 
of the 36th was to secure the corps' 
long right flank — the terrain it had 
faced and the opposition it had en- 
countered were, if anything, more dif- 
ficult. Throughout early November 
the attached 442d and the organic 
141st regiments tried to clear the cen- 
tral portion of the Domaniale de 



344 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



Champ forest from Les Rouges Eaux 
on Route N-420 south to La Hous- 
siere. The two regiments finally occu- 
pied positions overlooking the upper 
Neune River valley, but they still 
faced a medley of German forces — 
mixed elements of the 933d Grenadiers, 
the 202d Mountain Battalion, and vari- 
ous fortress units from the Weststel- 
lung — holding strong defensive posi- 
tions in the forests between La Hous- 
siere and St. Leonard and in the 
Taintrux valley. The 143d and 142d 
Infantry regiments, north to south, 
remained in holding positions along 
the 36th Division's right from the 
Neune River valley near Biffontaine 
south some ten miles to the vicinity of 
Le Tholy, a thin defensive line that 
was beginning to make both Dahl- 
quist and Brooks a bit nervous. 

The Germans, however, had no 
thought of offensive action and were 
more concerned about their own 
flanks, fearing that a major Allied 
penetration to St. Leonard or Cor- 
cieux might precipitate a rapid Ameri- 
can advance along the relatively good 
roads that led north to St. Die, south 
to Gerardmer, and east across the 
Vosges to Colmar on the Alsatian 
plains. The Germans therefore de- 
fended the area stubbornly. From 1 
to 4 November, determined German 
infantry resistance, heavy artillery and 
mortar fire, miserable weather, flood- 
ed streams, inadequate air support, 
and the now ever-present seas of 
French mud severely limited 36th Di- 
vision advances. The Domaniale de 
Champ forest network had even fewer 
roads than its northern neighbors, 
and its flooded dirt avenues and trails 
mired vehicles and foot soldiers alike, 
making it nearly impossible to bring 



up supplies or to maneuver troops 
with any degree of dispatch. The 
cold, wet weather took an increasing 
toll on the mostly Hawaiian-born 
442d infantrymen; combat losses, al- 
though heavy, were greatly outnum- 
bered by nonbattle casualties — trench 
foot, severe colds, flu, and pneumonia 
being the most common illnesses. By 
7 November the 44 2d was down to an 
average of thirty effectives in each 
rifle company, and one battalion had 
to be withdrawn from the front that 
day. By the 9th, when the rest of the 
regiment came out of the forward 
lines, one company could muster only 
seventeen riflemen fit for duty, and 
another only four. The 442d was vir- 
tually incapable of further oper- 
ations. 11 

Replacing the dissipated 442d, the 
somewhat rested 142d Infantry reen- 
tered the forest and by 8 November 
had pushed through the Taintrux 
valley, only about a mile and a half 
short of the 7th Infantry's advance 
from the opposite direction. During 
the night of 9-10 November, as part 
of Balck's general withdrawal, the re- 
maining German units pulled most of 
their troops east of D-31, allowing 
units of the 142d regiment to occupy 
La Houssiere unopposed and to push 
over a mile farther east. There Oper- 
ation Dogface ended for the tired 
36th Division, well short of its final 
objective, the high ground overlook- 



"Shirey, Americans, p. 71. The 2d and 3d Battal- 
ions, 442d Infantry, went back into the lines on 13 
November to relieve the 142d Infantry in a quiet 
sector, but were taken out of the line again on 17 
November and sent with the rest of the regiment to 
the French Riviera and the relatively quiet Franco- 
Italian border area. At the time the 442d Infantry 
left, it could hardly marshal more than half of its au- 
thorized strength. 



THE GATES OF THE VOSGES 



345 



Company L, 142d Regiment, 36th Division, Pulls Back to Rear in Snowfall, 

near Langefosse, France, November 1944. 



ing St. Leonard. Nevertheless the 
right flank of the VI Corps appeared 
secure, and in balance the stubborn 
incursions of the 36th had attracted 
much German attention, thereby di- 
verting major units that might have 
been deployed in the St. Die-Raon- 
l'Etape area to jam up the main ad- 
vance. 

Operation Dogface gave the VI 
Corps strong positions opposite the 
Meurthe River line, the so-called 
Vosges Foothill Position, and thus the of- 
fensive had achieved its stated pur- 
pose. Balck and Wiese perhaps were 
also satisfied, for the stubborn 
German defense, coupled with ad- 
verse weather and terrain, had sapped 



the strength of Brooks' infantry regi- 
ments, units that had been in almost 
continuous operations since 15 
August. Certainly by the end of Dog- 
face, none of the three "veteran" 
American divisions looked forward to 
another major offensive, especially 
one which might send them ten miles 
farther across the Vosges through 
even more precipitous terrain. Yet, as 
Truscott might have reminded them, 
the sooner they started, the weaker 
the German defense would be; and 
this time the VI Corps would have 
welcome reinforcements, including 
new infantry and armored formations 
that would almost double its size and 
striking power. 



PART FOUR 
THE NOVEMBER OFFENSIVE 



CHAPTER XX 



Planning the November Offensive 



During October and early Novem- 
ber 1944, the German Army had tem- 
porarily stopped the Allied offensive 
in northwestern Europe. In the sector 
of the British 21st Army Group, 
Montgomery's forces had secured the 
Schelde Estuary by 3 November, and 
minesweepers had cleared a path to 
Antwerp by the 8th. However, several 
more weeks would be needed to clear 
all of the estuary and repair the 
harbor before Antwerp could become 
a working port. Meanwhile, Allied tac- 
tical, logistical, and manpower prob- 
lems had been complicated by the 
autumn storms and early cold weath- 
er, making it impossible for the right 
of the 21st Army Group or the left of 
Bradley's 12th Army Group to make 
any significant progress toward the 
Ruhr, Ger many's industrial heartland 



\(Map 25)\ The principal accomplish- 
ment of the U.S. First Army, on Brad- 
ley's left, had been the costly and 
time-consuming seizure of Aachen 
(Aix-la-Chapelle). There the First 
Army had penetrated over ten miles 
into Germany, but was still far short 
of the Ruhr. About 23 October the 
U.S. Ninth Army, after a brief stint as 
the 12th Army Group's center com- 
mand, moved up to the left of Brad- 
ley's sector to provide more direct 



support of Montgomery's 21st Army 
Group. This redeployment left the 
First Army as Bradley's center com- 
mand, with Patton's Third Army still 
on his right, or southern, wing. 

Beset by logistical difficulties in Oc- 
tober, the Third Army had failed to 
open the Metz approaches to the Saar 
basin which, straddling the border be- 
tween France and Germany, was 
second only to the Ruhr as a center 
of German war- making capabilities. 
The German defense of the Aachen 
and Metz areas underscored the 
continuing ability of the Wehrmacht to 
frustrate any narrow "strategic" 
ground advance into Germany of the 
type advocated by Montgomery. As a 
result, Eisenhower had become con- 
vinced late in October that an all-out 
offensive to defeat Germany by the 
end of 1944 was impossible. 1 All that 
could be undertaken was a limited of- 
fensive program for November and 
probably for December as well. 

Eisenhower saw nothing in the 
sector of the 6th Army Group that 
might change his views. Although 
Devers' armies had an independent 
supply line from the Mediterranean. 



'For high-level discussions concerning the possi- 
bility of defeating Germany by the end of 1944, see 
Pogue, The Supreme Command, pp. 307-09. 




MAP 25 



PLANNING THE NOVEMBER OFFENSIVE 



351 



the 6th Army Group still needed sever- 
al weeks to become logistically ready 
for a renewed major offensive effort. 
Moreover, the results of 6th Army 
Group operations during October led 
Eisenhower to doubt that Devers' com- 
mand could make any major contribu- 
tions to the Allied advance in Novem- 
ber. On the southern army group's 
northern wing, the Seventh Army's XV 
Corps had done little after clearing the 
Parroy forest, and Leclerc's seizure of 
the Baccarat area at the end of the 
month represented only a minor action 
across the much larger Allied front. At 
the 6th Army Group's center, the pic- 
ture was even less encouraging. During 
Operation Dogface the VI Corps had 
pushed some ten miles through the 
Vosges across a fifteen-mile-wide 
front, but the pace had been slow and 
costly. By November the corps' three 
veteran divisions were again at the 
point of complete exhaustion; a suc- 
cessful November offensive would 
depend greatly on the capabilities of 
the fresh but untried 100th and 103d 
Infantry Divisions and the equally inex- 
perienced 14th Armored Division, all 
of which were scheduled to enter the 
front line as soon as possible. 2 

To the south of Devers' American 
forces, the First French Army had 
made promising gains during October 
and November, but had been decisively 
stopped by stiffening German resist- 
ance in the southern section of the 
High Vosges. General de Lattre, the 
French commander, was pleased that 



2 The 14th Armored Division began unloading at 
Marseille on 29 October, and elements of the divi- 
sion were first committed to the Nice area to relieve 
units of the 1st Airborne Task Force. The first 
major increment of the division did not reach the 
forward area of the VI Corps until 20 November. 



attacks by the French II Corps had 
compelled the Germans to commit 
strong forces in the mountains, but he 
had no intention of ordering more 
French troops into the Vosges where 
the terrain so heavily favored the de- 
fenders. Instead, he continued to pre- 
pare his I Corps, which had been nearly 
inactive during October, for a mid-No- 
vember attempt to pierce the German 
defenses in the Belfort Gap area and 
then advance to the Rhine. 

General Planning 

From 16 to 18 October, Eisenhow- 
er held a series of conferences with 
his senior commanders concerning 
the course of operations in Novem- 
ber. 3 All of the meetings reflected Ei- 
senhower's continued concern with 
logistical problems. Conferring with 
Devers and Bradley at the 6th Army 
Group headquarters on 16 October, 
Eisenhower asked if the army group's 
line of communication from the Medi- 
terranean could be used to increase 
the flow of supplies to the Third 
Army. At the time, Devers estimated 
that he could probably start passing 
1,000 tons of supplies per day to Pat- 



3 General sources for this subsection are the fol- 
lowing: Pogue, The Supreme Command, pp. 305-11; 
Cole, The Lorraine Campaign, pp. 298-318; MacDon- 
ald, The Siegfried Line Campaign, pp. 379-93; Devers 
Diary, 16-17 Oct 44; Seventh Army Diary, 16-18 
Oct 44; Hist, 6th Army Gp, ch. 3; Final Rpt, G-3 
Section, HQ. 6th Army Gp, WWII, pp. 16-20; 
SHAEF Internal Memo, 22 Oct 44, sub: Decisions 
reached at Supreme Comdr's Conf, 18 Oct 44; Ltr, 
Eisenhower to Devers, 23 Oct 44 (no sub); SCAF 
Directive 114 (SCAF-114), 28 Oct 44; SCAF-118, 2 
Nov 44. The last four documents are in SHAEF 
SGS 381, Post-OvERLORD Ping II. SCAF-114 and 
SCAF-118 also have SHAEF message numbers, re- 
spectively, SHAEF Main S-64375 and SHAEF Main 
S-65076. (In Pogue, The Supreme Command, p. 310, 
nl4, SCAF-118 is mistakenly cited as SCAF-119.) 



352 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



ton's forces after 15 November, but 
would be unable to provide any sub- 
stantial assistance earlier. In the Su- 
preme Commander's mind, this re- 
sponse only emphasized the impor- 
tance of opening Antwerp for the 
northern Allied armies. The task 
would even have to take precedence 
over any renewed attack by Montgom- 
ery and Bradley against the Ruhr, and 
underlined Allied inability to launch a 
decisive offensive against Germany 
until the following year. 

The conferences culminated on 18 
October at Brussels, Belgium, where 
Eisenhower, Montgomery, and Brad- 
ley worked out plans concerning pri- 
marily the November operations of 
the 21st and 12th Army Groups. This 
meeting, in turn, led to the promulga- 
tion on 28 October of a new Eisen- 
hower directive, Supreme Command- 
er Allied Forces No. 114 (SCAF-114), 
for operations in November and, by 
inference, December as well. 4 SCAF- 
114 demonstrated that SHAEF's 
operational concepts had changed 
little since September. The document 
again placed the main Allied offensive 
effort in the sector held by Montgom- 
ery's 21st Army Group and in the 
part of the 12th Army Group's zone 
lying north of the Ardennes, an area 
roughly between Arnhem and 
Aachen. While securing the seaward 



4 Cole, The Lorraine Campaign, p. 298, incorrectly 
states that the directive was issued on 18 October, 
"complete with the 'probable' dates for new at- 
tacks." But SCAF-1 14, issued on the 28th, contains 
no target dates, and tentative timing was left to 
SCAF-1 18, issued on 2 November. The delay in 
promulgating SCAF-114 may have been caused by 
Eisenhower's desire to be certain that the 21st Army 
Group operations to clear the Schelde Estuary 
would be successful before he issued any new, 
sweeping orders. 



approaches to Antwerp had priority, 
the 21st Army Group was to push its 
right south and southeast from the vi- 
cinity of Nijmegen to clear its sector 
west of the Rhine, simultaneously 
seeking bridgeheads across the river. 
Meanwhile, forces of Bradley's 12th 
Army Group that were north of the 
Ardennes were also to move up to the 
Rhine, swinging their left northward 
in conjunction with the 21st Army 
Group's drive south and at the same 
time trying for bridgeheads over the 
Rhine south of Cologne. 

In the center — that portion of the 
First Army's zone lying south of the Ar- 
dennes plus all of the Third Army's 
sector — 12 th Army Group forces were 
to seize the Saar basin, advance gener- 
ally northeast to the Rhine, and secure 
bridgeheads over the river opposite 
the Frankfurt area. Subsidiary to the 
main effort north of the Ardennes, 
these operations were to be timed to 
support the northern offensives. 

Eisenhower's SCAF-114 called for 
only limited offensive actions in the 
Ardennes and Vosges areas. The im- 
mediate task of the 6th Army Group, 
Eisenhower informed Devers, was to 
protect the right flank of the 12 th 
Army Group, primarily by securing 
the Luneville area. But since the Lun- 
eville "area" had certainly been 
secure since the end of the Parroy 
forest battle on 10 October, well over 
two weeks before SCAF-114 ap- 
peared, the mission seems a bit su- 
perfluous. However, SCAF-114 also 
directed Devers to clear the Germans 
from the 6th Army Group's sector 
west of the Rhine and ultimately seize 
crossings over the river in the vicinity 
of Karlsruhe and Mannheim, some 
forty and seventy-five miles north of 



PLANNING THE NOVEMBER OFFENSIVE 



353 



Strasbourg, respectively. 

The directive again reflected a com- 
promise between a rigid single-thrust 
strategy and a broad front operational 
concept. Moreover, it outlined a pro- 
gram that probably went beyond what 
Eisenhower actually had in mind for 
the near future. The most Eisenhower 
evidently expected of operations in 
November, if not December as well, 
was to clear all German forces from the 
area west of the Rhine River, from Nij- 
megen in the north to the Swiss border 
in the south. Although the directive in- 
cluded provisions for the opportunistic 
seizure of bridgeheads over the Rhine 
by all three army groups, it also speci- 
fied that movement of the Allied forces 
in strength across the river would have 
to wait for considerable improvement 
in the logistical situation as well as for 
the arrival of fresh Allied divisions. Ei- 
senhower was apparently now recon- 
ciled to the probability that major ad- 
vances beyond the Rhine, including the 
seizure of the Ruhr, would be delayed 
until 1945. 

From Devers' point of view, the 
Karlsruhe and Mannheim areas could 
best be considered long-term objec- 
tives, since even their approaches were 
currently well outside his army group's 
operational zone. The 6th Army 
Group's own river-crossing plans thus 
focused on the Rastatt area, about 
twenty-eight miles north of Stras- 
bourg. South of Rastatt, the densely 
wooded mountains of the Black Forest 
dominated the eastern edges of the 
Rhine valley, greatly reducing the at- 
tractiveness of any bridgeheads over 
the upper Rhine. The Rastatt area thus 
represented the most southerly cross- 
ing point where the 6th Army Group 
might expect to secure good avenues 



of approach leading east and northeast 
deep into Germany or, alternatively, 
north up the Rhine valley to Karlsruhe 
and Mannheim. 

SCAF-114 set no firm timetable for 
the November offensive, but the army 
group and army commanders involved 
soon learned that Eisenhower expect- 
ed the left of Bradley's 12th Army 
Group to lead off the attack against the 
Ruhr sometime between 1 and 5 No- 
vember, with the right of the 21st Army 
Group following on about 10 Novem- 
ber. The Third Army, on the right, or 
southern, wing of the 12th Army 
Group, was to begin its attack against 
the Saar as soon as its logistical situa- 
tion permitted, but no later than five 
days after the left of the 12th Army 
Group began the offensive. Thus the 
latest target date for the start of Pat- 
ton's Third Army offensive would also 
be 10 November, and it could well be 
several days sooner if Bradley's north- 
ern forces jumped off early. 

Not surprisingly, given Eisenhow- 
er's apparent indifference to the po- 
tential of the 6th Army Group, nei- 
ther SCAF-1 14 nor an amendment on 
2 November, SCAF-1 18, specified a 
date for launching Devers' supporting 
offensive in November. However, 
after consulting with Bradley, Patton, 
Patch, and de Lattre, Devers set 15 
November as his own target date. 

Several considerations led Devers 
to select 15 November. 5 First, his G-4 
set the 15th as the earliest date on 
which the army group's logistical 



5 Additional material on internal 6th Army Group 
planning is from the following: 6th Army Gp LI 2, 
28 Oct 44; Devers Diary, 4 Nov 44; Seventh Army 
Diary, 24, 25, and 28 Oct and 3 Nov; Ltr, CG Sev- 
enth Army to CG VI Corps and CG XV Corps, 5 
Nov 44. 



354 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



system could support a sustained of- 
fensive to carry the Seventh Army and 
the First French Army to the Rhine. 
In addition, Devers hoped that the 
Seventh Army, especially its VI 
Corps, could secure a suitable line of 
departure for the main offensive by 5 
November, thereby affording the 
army about ten days to rest some of 
its worn divisions and to introduce 
the fresh 100th and 103d Divisions 
into the line. Another consideration 
stemmed from a study by the 6th 
Army Group staff of German reac- 
tions to major Allied attacks, which 
concluded that the Germans usually 
started moving their general reserves 
either on the evening of the second 
day or morning of the third day of a 
strong Allied offensive. To take ad- 
vantage of this pattern, it seemed log- 
ical to stagger the starting dates of 
the November offensives of the 6th 
and 12th Army Groups. Thus, if the 
12th Army Group's Third Army at- 
tacked on 10 November, the 6th 
Army Group's Seventh Army should 
strike no earlier than three days (13 
November) and no later than five 
days (15 November) after the Third 
Army moved. 6 If the attacks could be 
echeloned in this manner, the Ger- 
mans would probably be in the proc- 
ess of moving reserves to the sector 
under attack by the Third Army, and 
the Seventh Army offensive would 
force them to reconsider their deploy- 
ments, thereby causing further delays. 



6 Citing the Third Army Diary for 5 November 
1944, Cole, The Lorraine Campaign, p. 302, states that 
on 5 November Devers told Patton that the Seventh 
Army's XV Corps would jump off two days after the 
Third Army's attack began, but no confirmation of 
this statement can be found in 6th Army Group 
sources. 



Accordingly, Devers planned to 
have the offensives of both his Sev- 
enth and First French Armies begin 
on or about 15 November in a series 
of attacks. On the Seventh Army's 
left, XV Corps was to launch its of- 
fensive on D-day, presumably 15 No- 
vember, while on the right the VI 
Corps would strike on D plus 2. The 
XV Corps was first to head northeast 
for Sarrebourg, along Route N-4 
about thirty miles north of St. Die. 
Then Haislip's right wing would 
swing eastward to force the Vosges 
Mountains via the Saverne Gap, the 
narrow waist of the Vosges nearly fif- 
teen miles east of Sarrebourg and at 
the western edge of the Alsatian 
plains. Subsequently, the XV Corps 
would continue northeastward astride 
the Low Vosges in a corridor some 
twenty miles wide, with the Third 
Army's XII Corps on the left and the 
Seventh Army's VI Corps on the 
right. 

The VI Corps, beginning its attack 
on the 17th, was to advance north- 
eastward with its main effort along 
the axes of Routes N-420 and N-392 
through the Saales and Hantz passes, 
northeast of St. Die. Breaking out 
onto the Alsatian plains, General 
Brooks' corps was then to seize Stras- 
bourg and secure the west bank of 
the Rhine north and south of the city. 
Initially, Patch's Seventh Army plan- 
ners estimated that the VI Corps 
attack would constitute the army's 
main effort during the November of- 
fensive, with the XV Corps attack 
drawing off the German reserves. But 
as D-day approached, the army staff 
adopted a more flexible attitude 
about the relative weight of the two 
attacks. 



PLANNING THE NOVEMBER OFFENSIVE 



355 



South of the VI Corps, the French 
II Corps was to mount another three- 
day limited objective attack in the 
Vosges Mountains between 10 and 15 
November, both to support the VI 
Corps' offensive and to divert 
German attention from the Belfort 
Gap. There, de Lattre's I Corps was 
to launch the main effort of the First 
French Army's November offensive 
on or about the 15th and attempt to 
breach the gap, not north of Belfort 
as long envisioned, but south of the 
city along the Swiss border. 

The First French Army 

By the end of the first week of No- 
vember, the First French Army's lo- 
gistical situation had improved con- 
siderably. Nevertheless, General de 
Lattre realized that it would be diffi- 
cult for his forces to sustain an all-out 
offensive against determined German 
resistance for more than ten days or 
perhaps two weeks at most. His best 
hope was that the German defenses in 
the Belfort Gap would collapse quick- 
ly under the weight of a strong, 
sudden onslaught before any major 
logistical problems arose. 

He also faced severe manpower 
constraints. 7 Well before the end of 
October de Lattre's command had 
begun to run out of trained replace- 
ments from its diminishing resources 
in Africa. Moreover, de Lattre wanted 
to replace at least 15,200 black troops 
from tropical and subtropical Africa — 



7 The following discussion of French manpower 
problems is based mainly on de Lattre, History, pp. 
169-78; Devers Diary, 22 Dec 44; Vigneras, Rearm- 
ing the French, chs. 18-20; La Ire D.F.L., Epopee d'une 
Reconquete, p. 148; Historique de la Neuvieme Division 
d'Infanterie Coloniale, pp. 44-47. 



most of them in the 1st Infantry and 
9th Colonial Divisions — before winter 
weather arrived. As planned before 
Anvil was launched, the First French 
Army had begun to tap the manpower 
resources of metropolitan France 
soon after the Riviera landings; by 
early October some 52,000 troops 
from various FFI organizations had 
joined de Lattre's regulars, and the 
number rose to over 60,000 by the 
end of the month. 8 Meanwhile, a con- 
current program of individual recruit- 
ment and training had attained some 
success in filling holes in the ranks of 
de Lattre's regular formations. 

The integration of the European 
soldiers into what was in reality a co- 
lonial army proved difficult, and the 
task was further complicated by the 
political differences between the often 
conservative North African French 
Army cadre, many of whom had been 
supporters of the Vichy French 
regime, and the more leftist FFI lead- 
ers, especially those who were mem- 
bers of the French Communist Party. 
Experimenting, de Lattre had first at- 
tached battalion-sized FFI units to ex- 
isting organizations, a procedure that 
worked fairly well for commando-type 
units where the light infantry experi- 
ence of the FFI found a compatible 
home. The same process also 
achieved some success within the ar- 
mored divisions, where the FFI battal- 
ions were often welcome additions to 
the infantry-short combat commands. 
In the French infantry divisions, how- 
ever, the FFI battalions, normally at- 
tached as fourth battalions to existing 



'Another 60,000 to 75,000 FFI troops, outside de 
Lattre's authority, served in western and southwest- 
ern France. 



356 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 




French North African Soldiers 



regiments, were often misused and 
neglected, while at the same time cre- 
ating a drain on the supplies and 
equipment of the parent unit. 

In the case of the black African 
troops, de Lattre found that the best 
solution was to replace them company 
by company or battalion by battalion 
with Caucasian forces. In this manner 
some 6,000 FFI troops replaced an 
equivalent number of black soldiers in 
the French 1st Infantry Division's line 
battalions as well as in some artillery 
and service organizations, with the in- 
digenous French troops often taking 
over the arms and equipment, includ- 
ing overcoats and helmets, of the de- 
parting Africans. Although it depend- 
ed more on individual recruitment, 
the 9th Colonial Infantry Division ab- 



sorbed three FFI infantry battalions 
and two FFI infantry companies 
during the process of replacing its 
9,200 Senegalese troops. 9 Later, due 
to the difficulties of securing suffi- 
cient replacements from North Africa 
to keep all Algerian and Moroccan 
regiments up to strength, de Lattre 
replaced one regiment each of the 3d 
Algerian, the 2d Moroccan, and the 
4th Moroccan Mountain Divisions 
with FFI units. 

The amalgamation of FFI units into 
the regular formations as well as the 
rapid influx of hastily trained individ- 



9 On completion of the replacement process, the 
4th, 6th, and 13th Senegalese Tirailleurs were re- 
designated the 21st, 6th, and 23d Colonial Infantry 
Regiments, although they were obviously no longer 
colonial formations. 



PLANNING THE NOVEMBER OFFENSIVE 



357 



ual replacements created serious 
problems. Many of the younger men 
recruited in metropolitan France had 
no military experience at all, not even 
with the FFI; and those recruits with 
prior experience were unfamiliar with 
the American equipment and organi- 
zation used by de Lattre's forces. 
Complicating matters further was de 
Lattre's practice of maintaining nu- 
merous FFI-based battalions and regi- 
ments in addition to organizations 
that the Combined Chiefs of Staff 
(CCS) had approved for the French 
rearmament program. 10 Since the 
CCS would not, and indeed could 
not, provide arms and other equip- 
ment for such units, de Lattre had to 
juggle First French Army stocks, seek 
surplus American and British equip- 
ment, and use a variety of salvaged 
and captured materiel to keep the 
extra FFI units minimally equipped. 
The effort placed an undue strain on 
the First French Army's already weak 
logistical machinery, while at the 
same time adding to the stress on 
American supply agencies. 11 

Whatever de Lattre's logistical and 
manpower problems, far greater 
threats to the success of the Belfort 
Gap operation lay in proposals to 
strip the First French Army of some 
of its strongest units on the very eve 
of the November offensive. 12 The first 



10 De Gaulle and the French Provisional govern- 
ment followed the same policy outside of the First 
French Army's zone. 

11 In the end the CCS supported the formation of 
four new French infantry divisions in metropolitan 
France. See Vigneras, Rearming the French, ch. 20. 

12 General sources on the diversions include the 
following: de Lattre, History, pp. 203-05, 219-22; 
Hist, 6th Army Gp, ch. 2; Vigneras Interviews; 
Devers Diary, 25 Oct 44 and 4 and 7 Nov 44; Rad, 
Eisenhower to Devers et al., SHAEF Fwd 14223, 9 
Sep 44; SCAF-93 (SHAEF Fwd 16181), 29 Sep 44; 



of these threats involved the 190-mile 
front along the Franco-Italian border 
from Switzerland south to the Medi- 
terranean. As of mid-October the 
French held about two-thirds of the 
sector with the 4th Moroccan Moun- 
tain Division (less one regimental 
combat team) and numerous FFI 
units that were in the process of 
being formed into a provisional 
Alpine division. The American 1st 
Airborne Task Force, including the 
Canadian-American 1st Special Ser- 
vice Force, held the southern third of 
the front. General Devers had been 
seeking ways to release these special- 
ized assault troops from their essen- 
tially static defensive role, and in mid- 
October he alerted General de Lattre 
to be prepared to have First French 
Army units take over the southern 
third by 11 November, only days 
before the Belfort Gap offensive was 
to begin. 

De Lattre predictably objected to 
the extension of his responsibilities in 
the far south. The task would prob- 
ably have forced him to return the 
4th Moroccan Mountain Division's 
third regiment to the Franco-Italian 
front, reducing his strength for the 
Belfort Gap offensive. As a counter, 
he thus suggested that a substantial 
number of his black African troops, 
those currently being replaced in the 
1st Infantry and 9th Colonial Divi- 



SCAF-119 (SHAEF Main S-65164), 2 Nov 44; 
Memo, Eisenhower to Lt Gen Walter B. Smith 
(Chief of Staff, SHAEF), 22 Sep 44; Ltr, Eisenhower 
to de Gaulle, 25 Sep 44; Amendment 1,31 Oct 44, 
to 6th Army Gp LI 2, 28 Oct 44. Copies of most 
high-level documents concerning the diversions are 
located in the 6th Army Group AG files of RG 407, 
in the 381 series, particularly 381.1 and 381 JPS, 
and in RG 331, SHAEF SGS File 475/2, France, 
Employment of French Forces. 



358 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



sions, be reorganized and reequipped 
for the task; the climate in the south- 
ern third of the area was comparative- 
ly mild and would impose no undue 
hardship on these forces. Devers, 
however, believing he could not pro- 
vide the necessary supplies and 
equipment for what would be new 
French units, rejected the idea and 
recommended that de Lattre send the 
9th Zouaves, an independent regi- 
ment, to relieve the American forces 
in the south. But the French com- 
mander had already earmarked the 
Zouaves for a role in the November 
offensive and asked that the relief at 
least be delayed until the end of the 
month. Tentatively Devers agreed, 
but in the meantime he made ar- 
rangements for the 442d Regimental 
Combat Team, which was then rede- 
ploying south from the Vosges, and 
elements of the newly arrived 14th 
Armored Division to take over the 
border positions. 

Of potentially greater impact on de 
Lattre's forthcoming offensive were 
plans to divert two of the strongest 
French divisions from the Belfort Gap 
front. Since early September General 
de Gaulle had been pressing Eisen- 
hower to authorize an operation to 
open the Gironde Estuary, which was 
the seaward approach to the port of 
Bordeaux in western France. With all 
other Allied-controlled French ports 
devoted almost exclusively to military 
requirements, there was a pressing 
need for a large port that could 
handle civilian relief supplies as well 
as equipment and commerce neces- 
sary to begin restoring the French 
economy. The need was especially 
acute in the areas of western and 
southwestern France, which were still 



dependent on long overland routes 
for supplies. Moreover, the fact that 
isolated German forces in the Gir- 
onde Estuary were blocking access to 
France's second largest port rankled 
French leaders, especially since the 
Germans had left most of Bordeaux's 
facilities intact when they evacuated 
the port on 28 August. Finally, there 
was the matter of internal security. 
Communist agitation in southwestern 
France had already been highlighted 
by clashes between the various resist- 
ance factions, and many conservative 
Frenchmen like de Gaulle feared 
some kind of leftist revolution led by 
the strong Communist-dominated FFI 
groups. The fact that the Communists 
had been among the first to take up 
arms against the German occupiers 
and had borne the brunt of the early 
resistance struggle only increased 
their standing in many French eyes, 
which made both the conservative de 
Gaulle and veteran French politicians 
extremely nervous. In addition, there 
was always the possibility that the 
Germans might mount destructive 
raids out of their defensive enclaves 
or even attempt to reach the relative 
safety of Spain. Had they timed such 
efforts with German operations in the 
northeast, the weakly armed FFI, 
backed only by a few regular Allied 
units, would have had difficulty stop- 
ping them. 

At first Eisenhower was firmly op- 
posed to such diversions, and on 9 
September he informed the CCS and 
Devers that SHAEF would commit no 
forces to operations in southwestern 
France until German pockets at Brest 
and at some of the lesser Brittany 
ports had been cleared. But de Gaulle 
and the French Department of Na- 



PLANNING THE NOVEMBER OFFENSIVE 



359 



tional Defense insisted that the Bor- 
deaux area had to be liberated. Feel- 
ing that his own prestige was at stake, 
de Gaulle proposed that the French 
1st Armored Division be pulled from 
the line to help FFI units clear out 
not only the Gironde pockets, but 
also the Germans still occupying the 
smaller port of La Rochelle, about 
thirty-five miles to the north. He also 
suggested that the French 1st Infantry 
Division be redeployed to Paris to 
promote internal security and provide 
a training base for the new French di- 
visions. Again Eisenhower applied the 
brakes. No diversions from the First 
French Army, he informed de Gaulle 
on 25 September, could be counte- 
nanced until the arrival of more 
American divisions in France. 

Nevertheless, four days later the 
Supreme Commander began to give 
way to political considerations. In- 
forming the CCS that internal security 
in southwestern France was becoming 
a major problem, he authorized 
AFHQ to send appropriate small 
units of the French rearmament pro- 
gram still in North Africa or on Corsi- 
ca to southwest France to help restore 
order. He also told the CCS that he 
intended to redeploy additional forces 
there from the First French Army 
when the military situation made such 
a withdrawal possible. However, per- 
haps influenced by the cost and de- 
structiveness of Allied operations to 
seize Brest, Eisenhower did not at this 
time propose any operations to 
reduce the Gironde pockets. 13 

In early October General de 
Gaulle, evidently encouraged by Ei- 



13 The Brest operation is covered in Blumenson, 
Breakout and Pursuit, ch. 30. 



senhower's statement, alerted de 
Lattre that his 1st Armored Division 
would be employed for operations 
against the Gironde Estuary and 
added that the French 1st Infantry Di- 
vision would also be withdrawn for 
similar endeavors. 14 Meanwhile, 
SHAEF and the French Department 
of National Defense undertook pre- 
liminary planning for an effort to 
clear the Gironde Estuary, dubbed 
Operation Independence. 15 Much ini- 
tial groundwork apparently took place 
with little or no participation of Gen- 
erals Devers and de Lattre or their 
staffs, and it was not until 2 Novem- 
ber that SHAEF directive SCAF-119 
made the 6th Army Group responsi- 
ble for the final planning and execu- 
tion of Independence. 

Devers and de Lattre were obvious- 
ly upset over the prospect of losing 
so substantial a force, but neither ap- 
peared to have much influence over 
SHAEF or the French Department of 
National Defense regarding this issue. 
At the direction of SHAEF, Devers 
formally outlined the two-division 
troop requirement of Operation Inde- 
pendence for de Lattre on 31 Octo- 
ber, and also indicated that the Gir- 
onde Estuary operation would be 
expanded to include the seizure of La 
Rochelle plus another strong German 
pocket at St. Nazaire, ninety miles far- 
ther north. Other actions contemplat- 
ed during Independence included 
sealing off the Franco-Spanish border 
and restoring order throughout 



14 See Vigneras Interviews, pp. 30-31; and de 
Lattre, History, p. 219. Lt. Col. de Camas recalled 
that de Lattre received the alert on 2 October, but 
de Lattre stated that he first learned of the proposal 
in a letter from de Gaulle dated 7 October. 

"Known until 2 November as Operation Hiatus. 



360 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



southwestern France, tasks that might 
divert even more strength from the 
First French Army. 

After receiving SCAF-119, Devers 
limited the scope of the planned op- 
eration to the Gironde Estuary and, 
on 6 November, provided de Lattre 
with a final troop list for Independ- 
ence. The operation was to take a 
60,000-man bite out of the First 
French Army, including 45,000 
combat troops. The French 1st Ar- 
mored Division headed the troop list, 
followed by the 1st Infantry Division, 
the 9th Zouaves, an armored recon- 
naissance squadron, two tank destroy- 
er battalions, and a three-battalion 
field artillery group. 16 The 1st Ar- 
mored Division was to depart the Bel- 
fort front on 1 1 November, just days 
before de Lattre's offensive was 
scheduled to begin; the French 1st In- 
fantry Division was to follow on the 
27th. Operations against the Gironde 
Estuary pockets were to begin about 
10 December and be completed by 1 
January 1945. 

Conferring with Devers on 7 No- 
vember, de Lattre again registered his 
vehement objections to the diversion. 
The French commander argued that 
if Independence were to be a 6th 
Army Group operation, then the Sev- 
enth Army should also contribute 
troops to the endeavor, suggesting 
that the XV Corps' French 2d Ar- 
mored Division be substituted for his 
own 1st Armored Division. In any 
case, de Lattre insisted, he could not 



16 During the planning process, the projected 
troop list included the French II Corps headquar- 
ters, but by 6 November Devers had decided to run 
the operation through a provisional French com- 
mand, French Forces of the West, under General de 
Larminat. 



let the armored division go until he 
had decisively broken through the 
Belfort Gap defenses, and he did not 
expect such an event before the 20th. 

Devers, knowing the key role that 
Haislip had planned for Leclerc's 2d 
Armored Division in the XV Corps' 
November offensive, could not agree 
to the switch. However, sympathetic 
with de Lattre's desire to keep the 
First French Army intact and equally 
eager to assure the success of the Bel- 
fort Gap operation, he made some 
concessions. Initially, he moved the 
departure date of the French 1st Ar- 
mored Division back to 16 November 
and that of the French 1st Infantry 
Division to 28-30 November; he also 
deleted the 9th Zouaves, the recon- 
naissance squadron, and some service 
units from the Independence troop 
list. Subsequently, de Lattre's supply 
officers "recomputed" the logistics of 
the armored division's move and de- 
cided that its main body would not 
have to start westward until 21 No- 
vember. Devers quickly approved this 
further delay in the armored unit's 
departure, but held the infantry divi- 
sion's redeployment to the end of No- 
vember. Thus de Lattre could count 
on these two units for only a limited 
time, and on 13 November, two days 
before the Belfort Gap offensive was 
to begin, the French armored division 
even sent an advance party to Bor- 
deaux to assist in the projected 
move. 17 

German Prospects 

By the end of the first week in No- 
vember, the recent Allied attacks had 



17 1st Fr Armd Div Jnl de Marche, 13 Nov 44. 



PLANNING THE NOVEMBER OFFENSIVE 



361 



again stretched the Nineteenth Army to 
the breaking point. Only the difficult 
terrain had slowed the Allied advance 
in the Vosges and staved off a com- 
plete collapse. 18 But General Wiese 
still had no reserves worthy of the 
name to contain or counterattack 
even a minor Allied penetration. The 
Weststellung defenses throughout the 
Nineteenth Army's sector were in no 
way capable of withstanding a con- 
certed Allied attack, and the army 
could not hold the Vosges Foothill Posi- 
tion much longer with the declining 
forces Wiese had at his disposal. Fi- 
nally, although the terrain was the 
greatest asset of the German defend- 
ers in the Vosges, the generally 
wooded and mountainous 120-mile 
front of the Nineteenth Army made it 
difficult for Wiese to shift his forces 
back and forth and to supply and sup- 
port his thinly spread army. 

Wiese also knew that his command, 
like that of General Devers, held a 
relatively low position in the hierar- 
chy of the western front. At OB West 
von Rundstedt's plans and decisions 
were strongly influenced by his prep- 
arations for the Ardennes counterof- 
fensive, then scheduled for late No- 
vember, and he had already stripped 
several major armored organizations 
from Army Group G for this purpose. 
His other major priority was counter- 
ing the expected drive of the north- 
ern Allied army groups against the 
Ruhr. Accordingly, OB West gave Army 
Group B, which was responsible for 
holding the Ruhr, defensive priority 
over Balck's Army Group G. Balck, in 



"German material in this section is based largely 
on von Luttichau, "German Operations," chs. 21 
and 22. 



turn, was forced to give priority to his 
First Army, which was defending the 
Metz area and the Saar against Pat- 
ton's divisions. With Patton obviously 
poised to strike, Balck had already de- 
cided to send any army group re- 
serves to his northern army. The 
Nineteenth Army would thus have to 
fight its battles with what was left 
over after all other German require- 
ments on the western front had been 
met. 

Balck and Wiese believed that the 
6th Army Group's main effort during 
November would be a Seventh Army 
attack along the general axis of Bac- 
carat, Sarrebourg, and Saverne. Bac- 
carat lay in the Nineteenth Army's area 
of responsibility, and Sarrebourg and 
Saverne in that of the First Army. The 
most immediate danger, the two 
German commanders estimated, was 
that Patch's command would open a 
gap between the First and Nineteenth 
Armies, thereby unhinging the de- 
fenses of the Saar basin and the Palat- 
inate. Both commanders also agreed 
that the First French Army would 
launch a secondary offensive in the 
Belfort Gap sector during November, 
but differed over where de Lattre's 
blow would fall. Balck thought that 
French operations in the gap area 
would constitute only a holding 
action to cover the main effort across 
the Vosges well north of Belfort; 
Wiese, on the other hand, believed 
that the French main effort would be 
centered against the Belfort Gap 
itself. 

The Nineteenth Army's front now co- 
incided with that of the 6th Army 
Group, for during the second week of 
November Balck had extended 
Wiese's sector northward to the 



362 



RIVIERA TO THE RHINE 



Rhine-Marne Canal, which also 
marked the boundary between the 
Allied 6th and 12th Army Groups. 19 
Wiese's northern army flank was an- 
chored on the canal near Lagarde, off 
the eastern corner of the Parroy 
forest. General Thumm's LXIV Corps 
held the army's right wing from the 
canal southeast some thirty-five miles 
to Saulcy-sur-Meurthe, three miles 
south of St. Die. The LXIV Corps thus 
faced all of the Seventh Army's XV 
Corps as well as most of the VI 
Corps. 

On 7 November the LXIV Corps had 
on line, from north to south, the two- 
regiment 553d Volksgrenadier Division, 
the 951st Grenadiers of the 361st Volks- 
grenadier Division (at Raon-l'Etape), the 
weak 21st Panzer Division, the battered 
716th Infantry Division, and what was 
left of the nearly destroyed 16th Volks- 
grenadier Division. The next day the 
708th Volksgrenadier Division began 
moving into the German front lines 
between the 553d Volksgrenadier Divi- 
sion and the 21st Panzer; it first re- 
lieved the 951st Grenadiers and then 
took over for the 21st Panzer Division, 
with both of the retiring units moving 
north of the canal to become part of 
the First Army. The weakened 106th 
Panzer Brigade, Army Group G's only 
significant reserve, accompanied the 
21st Panzer Division northward, repre- 
senting the last of the Nineteenth 
Army's armor except for some assault- 
gun units. 

Although weak in infantry and artil- 
lery and lacking antitank weapons, the 



19 The extension was not fully effective until 13 
November; previously, the German boundary had 
roughly followed Route N-4, about ten miles south 
of the canal. 



553d Volksgrenadier Division boasted 
seasoned troops and good leadership. 
To its south the arriving 708th Volks- 
grenadiers was nearly up to strength, 
but lacked training and experienced 
leaders; some 70 percent of its non- 
commissioned officers, for example, 
were former members of the Luftwaffe 
or the Kriegsmarine. 20 Farther south the 
716th Division was reinforced by the 
757th Grenadiers, a regiment of